The oldest literary reference to Robin Hood comes from the medieval poem Piers Plowman by William Langland and dates from the year 1377.

However the use of the surname ‘Robinhood’ predates this considerably.

From the early 1980's onwards a number of ‘Robinhood’ surnames have been found in 13th century documents.


The Robin Hood statue outside Nottingham Castle

















Picture: Robin Hood statue outside Nottingham Castle © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC.


All of those found so far date from 1261-1290. This is a hundred years earlier than the Piers Plowman reference.

This suggests that the legend- or the term ‘Robin Hood’ was in use by the second half of the 13th century at least.

Any original Robin Hood must therefore have been operating before or around this time.

The notorious Folville gang operated in the early 14th century and were mentioned in Piers Plowman within a few years of their exploits (see their story page for more details),

Most of the surnames recorded are to do with law-breaking, and were suspected or outlawed criminals, as shown by the list below from the 1989 edition of J C Holt’s ‘Robin Hood’:

Alexander Robehod was sought for theft in Essex in 1272;

Gilbert Robehod was released to pledges by the justices after an unspecified charge in Suffolk in 1286;

Robert Robehod was indicted in Hampshire in 1294 on a charge of stealing sheep;

John Rabunhod was charged with others in 1272 with murder- after a quarrelsome brawl in a tavern near Fareham, Hampshire; he had fled and was outlawed.

And a William Robehod who appeared in 1261-2 in Berkshire as a member of an outlaw gang suspected of robberies and of harbouring robbers.

Coincidentally, along with these ‘Robin Hoods’ in a 1292 a Little John and a Petit Johan were both appealed of robbery (Holt 1989).

Of all these surnames the most significant is ‘William Robehod’ of 1261.

His entry into history was discovered by David Crook formerly of the National Archives and former editor of the Transactions of the Thoroton Society, whose great knowledge of the subject and years of experience enabled him to link to separate historic cases together:

William Robehod is listed for the crime stated above in the King's Rememberancer's Memoranda Roll of Easter 1262.

By a chance survival the crime is also recorded in the roll of the Justices in Eyre for Berkshire in 1261.

Here William Robehod is actually revealed to be a ‘William son of Robert le Fevere’.

The Clerk in the 1262 roll had changed his name to Robehod!!!

Therefore the name in this instance is a nickname and not a surname. (Crook 1987).

Was Robin Hood a nickname for any 'Robbing Hoody'?

Or was this clerk familiar with a legend already widely in circulation in 1261?

Whatever the reason the entry is incredibly significant as it means it would be very difficult if not impossible to be sure of the authenticity of any earlier ‘Robinhood’.

There are earlier names that could be the original Robin hood.

A 1225 entry for a Robert Hod on the Pipe Roll, with the form Hobbehod used in 1226 exists, and will be the subject of a future entry.

But it could well be that the fame of Robin Hood may also be the insurance of his permanent obscurity (Holt 1989).

If anyone convicted of a crime, or outlawed in medieval England could potentially receive the nickname of a 'Robinhood' then maybe we can never be sure of the authenticity of anyone no matter how strong the case…



Robin Hood Statue




























Picture: Robin Hood statue outside Nottingham Castle © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC.





(Andy Gaunt, first published 23/11/2011)


Click here for more ‘Stories from the Forest’…





The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project Logo The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project

Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire, Community Archaeology Derbyshire, Community Archaeology Leicestershire, Community Archaeology East Midlands, Mercian Archaeological     Services Community Archaeology for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Sherwood Forest,     Leicestershire and the East Midlands. Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire, Community     Archaeology East Midlands, Community Archaeology Leicestershire. Archaeological




Mercian Archaeological Services Community Archaeology in the East Midlands

The development of the Robin Hood Legends: the Case of William Robehod

Award Winners 2016

for "Engaging people in the heritage, history & archaeology of Sherwood Forest".


Young Archaeology Club Sherwood Forest Trust Magna Carta Sherwood Forest

Some funders and partners:

World-wide Robin Hood Society

Robin Hood Society Feather in Your Cap Award 2016 Heritage Lottery Fund Archaeology Thynghowe Vikings Sherwood Forest Discover King John's Palace free excavation Robin Hood Town Tours
Home About Us & Contact Services Projects Publications Community Arch Testimonials Meet the Team

email: info@mercian-as.co.uk

The Future of Sherwood’s Past

 


Project page links:

-------------------------------

 Project Home page

-------------------------------

About the Project

-------------------------------

Awards

--------------------------------

 Media

--------------------------------

Research Aims

--------------------------------

 Working with Specialists

-------------------------------

Social Media - Follow us

--------------------------------

The Sherwood Forest
National Nature Reserve Archaeology Survey

-------------------------------

Long term Research at 
King John’s Palace:
Ancient Royal Heart of Sherwood Forest

-------------------------------

The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Training Fieldschool

--------------------------------

“Scirwuda- Mapping the Greenwood”: Place-names,
Ghost and Shadow woods of Sherwood Forest Project

-------------------------------

Investigating Thynghowe Viking
Meeting Site

-------------------------------

Searching for the 
The Battle of Hatfield

-------------------------------

Edwinstowe Church Survey

-------------------------------

 Fieldswork at St Edwin’s Chapel

-------------------------------

St Mary’s Norton- Cuckney Church Survey

-------------------------------

 Mapping Medieval Sherwood Forest

-------------------------------

The Sherwood Forest LiDAR
Project

-------------------------------

Warsop Old Hall
Archaeological Project

-------------------------------

The Sherwood Villages Project:
Settlement Development in the Forest

-------------------------------

Sherwood Heath Survey

--------------------------------

 Clipstone Village Dig

-------------------------------

Researching Edward IIs fortification at Clipstone Peel

-------------------------------

Ransom Wood Survey

-------------------------------

Thoresby Estate Survey

-------------------------------

 Robin Hood’s Village Dig

-------------------------------

The Cistercians of Rufford Project:
Settlement Development, Dynamics and Desertion.

--------------------------------

Sherwood Forest Environmental Survey

--------------------------------

World War II in Sherwood Forest - Mapping the camps, munitions and more

-------------------------------

World War I in Sherwood Forest - Mapping the camps, munitions and more

--------------------------------

About Medieval Sherwood Forest

-------------------------------

Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest

--------------------------------

 Outlaws & Villains

-------------------------------

 Historical Research

-------------------------------

 Stories from the Forest

-------------------------------

Book Reviews

-------------------------------

 Bibliography

-------------------------------

 Funding the Project

-------------------------------

 Project Partners

-------------------------------

 Project Sponsors

-------------------------------

 Robin Hood Challenges

--------------------------------

Outreach Bus Tours

-------------------------------

 Links page

-------------------------------



























Mercian Archaeological Services CIC (Community Interest Company)

An Independent Research Company, specialising in Training, Community Archaeology & Public Involvement.


Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire, Excavation, Research, Volunteering, Community Archaeology Derbyshire, Training, Social, Learning, Community Archaeology Leicestershire, Heritage, Involvement, Belonging, Knowledge sharing, Community Archaeology Lincolnshire, Topographic Survey, Talks and Presentations, Outreach, Archaeology Projects , Open Days, Schools, Finds Processing, Day Schools, Field Schools, Young People, Archaeology and History of Sherwood Forest, Pottery Research, Medieval, Roman, Prehistoric, Community Interest Company, Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire.



Community Archaeology in Nottinghamshire

Community Archaeology in Derbyshire

Community Archaeology in Leicestershire

Community Archaeology East Midlands

Community Archaeology in Lincolnshire


© Mercian Archaeological Services CIC 2019. Registered Business No. 08347842. All Rights Reserved.

Community Archaeology in Yorkshire

Talks & Workshops Indoor Training Outdoor Training Vitual Training Fieldschools Experience Days Events Calendar Sherwood Forest