Robin Hood: Outlaw's origins continue to divide opinion across Sheffield, Nottingham and Mansfield in a row which cannot end

There’s nothing like a good myth. The Loch Ness monster. The Abominable Snowman. Robin Hood. Unlikely bedfellows, but very much in demand.

Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 3:58 pm

Why? Because you can’t categorically prove one way or the other that they existed and the fact that legend suggests they did causes all sorts of excitement.

Which is why the row over Robin Hood’s birthplace has surfaced again.

It was prompted when a book by Dan Eaton, a teacher at Loxley Primary and a local historian, said a stone behind Loxley Primary School marks the birthplace of Robin – known as Robin of Loxley.

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Loxley Primary School have joined a campaign to celebrate Robin of Loxley. Picture Scott Merrylees

Guess what? Nottingham hit back. After all, the legend features the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sherwood Forest, so you would expect that.

Councillor Merlita Bryan, current Sheriff of Nottingham, said: “‘Robin Hood is as much from Sheffield as Jarvis Cocker is from Nottingham. Everyone knows his arch-rival wasn’t the sheriff of Sheffield.

“‘We get it – Yorkshire wants a piece of the legendary action, but really everyone knows that he was from Nottingham.’”

Nice Jarvis reference and there’s more. Mansfield has joined the party as town historian Richard Townsley says he is their man. “These two cities should back off – Robin is ours,” he said. “He belongs to Sherwood Forest and Nottinghamshire not the city. He is a country boy, not a city lad.”

Loxley Primary School have joined a campaign to celebrate Robin of Loxley. Picture Scott Merrylees

This is the beauty of a good myth. You can’t prove a thing. But there are winners. Bob White, the chair of the World Wide Robin Hood Society said the group welcomed debate over the supposed birthplace of the hero as it helps keep his story alive.

Crucially, Mr White acknowledges it is impossible to accurately pinpoint his birthplace.

“No matter how many times he’s been referred to in different books and songs, you can’t prove who he was or that he actually existed, there’s no undisputed historical evidence,” he said.

So why does it matter? The answer is simple – money. The man in green tights is worth a mint. Which is why the question of Yorkshire’s claim to Robin Hood has been going on for decades, and even reached parliament in 2004 when the then Wakefield MP David Hinchliffe raised concerns the county was not making the most of its connections to the legend.

Brass, of course, because if the outlaw’s arrow hits your target you are guaranteed visitors. Which means a band of merry men, women and children, bringing in much needed cash. That is why the argument won’t end and why no-one wants it to end.

We’d all like a slice of his legacy. As Mr White says: “Robin Hood has become a public icon for what he stands for, the fight for justice, and that’s the most important thing.”

So take your pick. Robin of Loxley? Robin of Sherwood? Or Robin of Mansfield? They all have glens so perhaps he rode through them all.