ERIC Houlder, the speaker at Holme Valley Civic Society’s September meeting, had little difficulty in persuading his mainly Yorkshire audience that Robin Hood – probably spelt Robyn Hode – was a Yorkshireman who, according to Wakefield Court Rolls, was the some of Adam Hode of Outwood, near Wakefield.
This Robin Hood married Matilda and built a house on land now occupied by Wakefield Bus Station.
Matilda featured in the original ballads, along with Little John, Much the miller’s son, Will Scathlock (which became Scarlet) and the Sheriff of Nottingham, but there is no mention of Maid Marion until the fifteenth century when Matilda seems to have been forgotten. Many other characters, such as Friar Tuck, are also later additions.
Robin Hood was outlawed at Pontefract and in the original ballads went to live in Barnsdale Forest, an area north of Doncaster.
In medieval times a forest was an area ruled by Forest Law and not necessarily one which was completely wooded. The early ballads mention Barnsdale Bar, Robin Hood’s well and other places in Barnsdale Forest, but nowhere is there any mention of Nottinghamshire.
Another myth which Mr Houlder disproved was that Robin Hood, skilled with the longbow, lived in the time of Richard I (reigned 1189-99) and Prince John. The problem with this date is that longbows were not used in England until around 1300 when Edward I hired Welsh mercenaries to fight for him, and so it is only in Edward’s reign that shooting with the longbow became a national sport.
According to a ballad, Robin Hood is said to have died in the mid 1340s at Kirkstall Priory as a result of being bled by the prioress, his wife’s cousin, who bore him a grudge. It is said that Robin is buried an arrow’s shot away, though the grave claimed to be his is too far away from the priory for this to be possible.
Mr Houlder was thanked for his entertaining and very convincing talk by chairman Margaret Hinchliffe.
The next Civic Society meeting will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday October 15 in Holmfirth Civic Hall when Kenneth dentin, who worked at the former Holmfirth Express offices, will reveal More Of Yesterday’s News.