Thursday, May 13, 2010

Robin Hood Week: Sherwood Forest

I had a roommate in college whose mother grew up near Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire which was quite a fun tidbit for me, especially when she introduced me to Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Extraordinarily Deluxe Three-Disc Edition) with a grand explanation of all the Britishisms along the way. I've never visited there myself although its on the long list of places I want to see someday.

For me, part of the appeal of Robin Hood is his habitat, living in a forest surrounded by trees and shrubbery--sorry, now Holy Grail is on the brain! My husband is an ocean man, but I prefer a forest. I realized I didn't know much about the forest itself, so I went investigating and here are some highlights.

From In search of the real Robin Hood by Stephen Moss:

"Welcome to Robin Hood county," say the signs as you drive towards Sherwood Forest. Sherwood used to cover more than 40,000ha, from the city of Nottingham up to South Yorkshire. Now it's down to about 182ha, a landscape of ancient oaks presided over by senior ranger Paul Cook. He gives me a tour of this remnant of forest to which visitors flock as the last vestige of the hideaway of the outlaw. The centrepiece is the Major Oak, a huge tree -- propped up by girders -- which stands virtually alone in a clearing. The tree is reputed to have been a meeting point for Robin and his outlaws, although, as Cook points out, this 1,000-year-old oak would have been a sapling in 1200.

Visitors are sometimes disappointed by the forest: not just its restricted size, but the type of trees it contains. "If you look at Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, they're all pine trees," says Cook. "Look at the Jonas Armstrong Robin Hood series; that was filmed in a beech forest in Hungary. We have virtually no beeches in Sherwood Forest. But people come here thinking that's what it's like. You get coachloads of Americans coming, and they'll say: 'It doesn't look anything like I imagined.'"

Also visit the Sherwood Forest page at Bold Outlaw to learn more about the forest. Wikipedia also has some helpful information and is the source of the picture of the Major Oak pictured at the top of this post.

Sherwood was patrolled by foresters who would mete out swift justice to those who broke the forest laws by such acts as killing the king's deer. Robin, naturally, broke these laws on a regular basis. Venison, deer meat, was among Robin's favourite foods. Click here to see a picture of Blacke Dickon, a medieval forester in Sherwood. Historically foresters were not always villians -- there were friendly foresters who would leave food for starving families.

The defining characteristic of a forest is that it was governed by forest laws. Much of Sherwood was not a heavily wooded area. There were large fields, meadows and even towns inside of Sherwood.

You can read more about The Sherwood Forest Trust and the efforts to preserve and even expand the forest. You can shop or donate their to help support the efforts.

A little bit more: The 10th President of the U.S, John Tylor, bought a plantation in Virginia "while he was still in the White House and renamed the plantation 'Sherwood Forest' referring to his reputation as a political outlaw. There are also plenty of entertainment and vacation spots around the world named for the famous place, in my home state there is the Sherwood Forest Resort in Pigeon Forge, TN.

No comments:

Post a Comment