Historians and researchers have a range of views but generally believe that
Robin Hood was alive around the thirteenth century.
The earliest reference to Robin Hood is in William Langland's poem
"The vision of William concerning Piers Plowman" which was written in 1377.
The poem says:
"I do not know my paternoster perfectly as the priest sings it.
But I know the rhymes of Robin Hood and Randolph, earl of Chester".
Other historical evidence places Robin anywhere between 1190 and 1307.
Clearly, for the Gest of Robin Hood to be compiled by 1400
the stories must have been in circulation well before that date.
No story of Robin Hood is complete without its setting, Sherwood Forest which in
Robin's time covered about 100,000 acres. At the heart of the Greenwood encampment lies
the famous Major Oak, the "council tree" of the outlaw band.
Sherwood Forest was of course home for the Kings deer which the outlaws
hunted for their illegal feasts. People in Robin's time saw the forest
as a dangerous place and travelled mostly in large groups
for fear of ambush and robbery. To Robin and the outlaws Sherwood Forest was a
place of safety from the Sheriff's, men.
Today, Sherwood Forest Country Park covers about 450 acres and attracts
around 3/4 million visitors a year who flock to see the Major Oak and the Visitor Centre.
Each year in August the Forest plays host to the Robin Hood Festival
where enthusiasts can recapture the spirit of Robin Hood in the
beautiful surroundings of the Greenwood.
According to the legend, Robin journeyed to Kirklees Priory where he was eventually killed by his cousin
the prioress and Sir Roger of Doncaster.
It is at Kirklees Priory that the supposed grave of Robin Hood can still be seen to this day.
Sadly, much of Kirklees Priory is now ruined but roughly 600 metres from the gatehouse
a medieval gravestone was found bearing a partial inscription "here lies Robard Hude..."