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Robin Hood – The forgotten god of the Wild Wood

If you have read any of my previous posts on this blog you will know that I have spent a fair amount of time researching our local history and the landscape in search of our forgotten local gods and goddesses. This search has taken on many forms and explored many lines of enquiry. One obvious avenue of investigations is of course the local folk legends and stories of Nottinghamshire.

Unlike some other counties in the UK that have local stories that are known to extend back into prehistory (such as the God Lir – or King Lear – being buried under the river Soar in Leicestershire), Nottinghamshire’s stories are considered to be largely from the middle ages. And of course anyone who begins investigating the the stories of Nottinghamshire will soon come across the stories of Robin Hood.

Growing up in the villages around Mansfield, Robin Hood was an unavoidable presence in my childhood. I can’t count the hours I spent running around the woodlands and fields playing Robin Hood. Making bows and arrows and just having fun. What is today called Sherwood forest was only a cycle ride away.

Who is Robin Hood?

Robin Hood remains an enigma that scholars have been trying to crack for centuries. Broadly there are two schools of thought. The first is that Robin Hood is a genuine historical person who lived some time in the 12th – 13th century. There have been many attempts to try and identify this individual, with many competing theories and contenders for the title of “the real Robin Hood”. The other school of thought is that the Robin Hood mythology is much older, and that at various times, individuals have taken on or been given the title Robin Hood. It is this idea that I am going to explore in this article. There have been many books on the subject of Robin Hood, and the theory that he may represent a much older British tradition than we might expect has been around for some time. To explain it well, I first need to recap what we do know about Robin Hood.

The story of Robin Hood that we know today bears little resemblance to the Robin Hood known to the medieval story tellers. In the early ballads Robin did not steal taxes, or fight to over throw Norman tyranny. He did not always steal from the rich to give to the poor either. The earliest references we have for Robin Hood come from a collection of ballads;

“The talkyng of the munke and Robyn Hode”, “A Gest of Robyn Hode” and “Robin Hood and the Potter” are among the earliest written accounts first recorded between 1450-1500. There are two other stories recorded in the 1600s, “Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne” and “The Death of Robin Hood”. It is important to remember that these ballads were part of an oral story telling tradition that goes right back into prehistory, and we only find the stories written down after the decline of this oral tradition, with the closing of the Welsh and Irish Bardic colleges. About two decades before the first ballads were written down, we have a reference in 1427 for the payment of 20 pence to actors in a Robin Hood play. By 1600, partly because of improvements in record keeping we have as many as 130 references to Robin Hood plays.

Although Robin Hood plays were preformed at various times of year, they had a particular association with the May Day games. During the May Day celebrations the person playing Robin Hood would take on the role of King of the May, leading the May Day procession. It is this clue that begins to unlock the mystery of Robin Hood and expose him for who he truly is. The Green Man, the spirit of the forest. He is the fertile force of abundant vegetative spring growth and the sacrificial king whose blood nourishes the land. It is this Robin Hood that we are searching for. Not the much later outlaw version that we remember today.

The very earliest written references to a Robin Hood come from court records of 1262, showing that by this time Robin Hood had all ready become a nickname for common criminals. The memorandum roll for 1261 refers to a Berkshire fugitive William, son of Robert le Fevre. But the roll from 1262 calls the same outlaw “William Robehod”. Another example is the Derbyshire outlaw Piers Venables who in 1439 rescued a group of prisoners. The record of the event states “beyng of his clothinge, and in manere of insurrection wente into the woodes in that county like it hadde be Robyn Hode and his meyne.”

It is interesting to note here that in the early ballads, Robin’s adversaries were not “the rich”. He was not a revolutionary seeking to overthrow the upper classes. His targets were corrupt officials. In the Gest, Robin tells his men not to harass yeomen, squires, husbandmen or knights. Instead he says;

These bishshoppes and these archebisoppes,
Ye shall them bete and bynde;
The hye sherif of Notyingham,
Hym holde ye in your mynde.

The antagonism between Robin and the church goes both ways, as the church made concerted efforts to, and eventually successfully suppressed what they saw as the pagan Robin Hood and May Day celebrations.

Looking under the hood

This is our first clue as to where the outlaw mythology originated. Not as a real outlaw but as a pagan tradition outlawed by the Christian church. And this is the reason why the church officials were the target of Robin’s activity in the early stories. This theme was then reinforced with the introduction from French after the Norman conquest of the term “robber” which evoked the name of Robin, and when coupled with the church’s efforts to suppress the pagan tendencies of the common people lead to the eventual use of the name Robin Hood to describe a class of criminal. These criminals were really just victims of the new draconian Norman “forest laws”, dispossessing and outlawing people for any breach within the one third of England designated as forest by the Normans. Of course, the deeds of outlawed Robin Hoods eventually became confused with the mythological Robin to result in the convoluted legend we have today. The key to unpeeling the layers of history is in the early ballads, mumming plays, morris dances, May Day celebrations, and the entomology of the name Robin Hood it’s self.

This Pagan Christian conflict over the identity of Robin Hood can be further seen in place names. In our local area there are many places named after Robin Hood, as there are all over the country. Many of these places also have some kind of association with the devil. Hood Hill in North Yorkshire is known locally as the “devils stride”. And there is another Hood Hill in south Yorkshire, where it is locally understood that Hood means devil. This all adds supporting evidence to the idea that Robin Hood is yet another victim of the demonisation of local deities by the Christian church. Another interesting example is the ancient hill fort of Hod(d) Hill in Dorset where local folklore remembers the activities of the faeries of the hill.

There are a couple of interesting points around this devil meaning of the word Hood. The first is the local phrase

“what ya got monk on for”?

Here, to have the “monk on” is to be offended or angry. More fully it is “he’s got t’black monk on his shoulder”. In other parts of the UK the word hood is used in place of monk, so the word monk has clearly been substituted due to the identification of monks with the hoods of their habits. But why would having a hood on denote anger or offence? One possibility might be the dispossession felt by the outlaws and the necessity of wearing a hood to protect their identity as an outlaw could be killed on sight. Another possibility is the Welsh word hud for “magic, enchanted, fairy”. So what we are looking at is more evidence of the demonisation of the pagan faeries as devils and more evidence of Robin Hood or Hud’s links with the world of faeries, who also often wore green and lived in the woods. To have the hood or monk on then, is to have the devil in your head, to be angry or under the influence of the devil. Hood Hill in south Yorkshire was also previously known as Hud Hill. Hud can also be found in old Irish legend as in Tir Hud or “enchanted island” and the word appears in old Gaelic too where it is translated as “splendid one” or “progeny of god”.

In her 1931 book “God of the witches” Margret Murry listed the name Robin as the “name of god in the old religion” citing the confession of Dame Alice Kytler in which she stated that when summoning the devil they call upon “some Robin the Devil”. I think the evidence for Robin Hood as something pagan that needed to be suppressed by the church is overwhelmingly clear. And what we are beginning to see is the emergence of Robin as a Fairy King.

As well as the May games with Robin as May king, king of the May fairs, we also have fairies heavily connected to fairs in Ireland, especially the Puc fairs, with their general disposition towards wild behaviour. Puc of course is the same Puc from Shakespear’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Mischievous fairy of the forest also known as Robin Goodfellow. Puc comes from the Gaelic poc meaning he-goat and at some fairs a goat was paraded through the town and crowned as the king of the fair.

Other clues to Robin Hood’s fairy nature are his archery skills, the wearing of the colour green and at some May day celebrations, the villages would not only construct a may pole but also “Robin Hoods bowers” which was also called fairy bowers. What is clear then, is that Robin is of the otherworld a member of the fairy folk who were once the gods of this land, and there is certainly a trickster element to the character Robin Hood as is made clear in the ballads and mumming plays.

The next aspect of Robin Hood to look at is Robin the hunter. In the stories Robin is a famed archer and hunter of the king’s deer. The association between Robin and the Stag is well known, as deer and specificity stags have an important place in the British folk tradition. Antlers have long been worn for ceremony and ritual, and are seen as an important fertility symbol. There are many examples of horned nature deities that are both guardian of the forest and lord of the hunt. Herne the Hunter immediately springs to mind as does Cernunnos, the figure depicted on the Gunderstrup cauldron. The wild hunt is a motif in mythology that occurs again and again. Herne, Woden, Gwyn ap Nudd and Arawn have all been said to lead the wild hunt, rounding up the souls or the recently departed, usually at Samhain but also at the other side of the year at Beltane or May Day. In Abbot’s Bromely in Stafordshare, each year the local Morris dancers perform the Horn Dance. Six dancers are accompanied by Maid Marian, A fool and a boy with a bow and arrow, who is understood to be Robin Hood. Horns of course, like robin himself have also been associated with the devil.

The king for a year

The Celtic festivals mark the turning points of the year, and during these celebrations sacrifices were made in order to ensure the people lived in harmony with the land. The balance between the people and the land they lived on was very important, as a poor harvest meant starvation. The turning of the season were thus extremely important and mythology grew around the harvest cycle that we see in many stories that come down to us today. The archetypal story is of the sacrificial god-king who reigns for a year before being slain and replaced by the new king as a sacrifice to the goddess of the land, the goddess of sovereignty. As Britain was Christianised these sacrificial rituals were gradually replaced be mock battles such as in the mumming plays and morris dances, and the crowning symbolic kings and queens such as at the May Day celebrations.

There are many stories that encapsulate this seasonal cycle myth. Some focus on the story of the two kings who do battle for the hand of the spring-maiden goddess at the two turning points of the year. This usually results in the goddess being kidnapped to the underworld by the winter king, and her absence being felt in the land as winter. In the spring the summer king triumphs over the winter king, and the goddess’ return to the land brings about the new life of spring. the most well known version of this is the kidnapping of the Persephone in Greek mythology. Other versions of the cyclical season myth focus on the goddess of the land giving birth to the spirit of spring, the divine child who replaces his farther the old king. The point here is that the sacrificial king whose blood must be spilt to heal the land is the king of the woods. He is the regenerative masculine burst of green vegetation, thrusting forth it’s shoots and rampantly growing in the spring. The image we know today as the green man, reflecting one of Robin Hood’s other well known names, Robin-o-the-wood. As noted anthropologist Lady Julia Raglan wrote:

‘There is only one [character] of sufficient importance, the figure variously known as the Green Man, Jack-in-the-Green, Robin Hood, the King of May, and the Garland, who is the central figure in the May-Day celebrations throughout Northern and Central Europe. In England and Scotland the most popular name for this figure … was Robin Hood.’

The time of the first records of Robin Hood roughly coincides with the beginning of record keeping generally. The first record of a Robin Hood play is from Exeter, only a few years after the city’s first recorded May Games. It is worth noting that Exeter Cathedral is filled with “Green Man” imagery. The Green Man, like Robin, has ties to the virgin Mary/Goddess of Sovereignty, Briganti (Maid Marion) as we shall see, and Exeter Cathedral is also dedicated to Mary. The chapter house of Southwell Minster (once in the heart of Sherwood Forest) also has numerous Green Man carvings.

The accepted entomology of the name Robin is that it derives from the French name Robert that was introduced during the Norman invasion. But if Robin is not medieval but far more ancient, stretching back to Celtic times, is there any evidence for this.

The Robin and the Wren

One very interesting clue is the folklore surrounding the Robin Redbrest or Cock Robin and Jenny/Cutty Wren. First there is the annual hunting of the Wren which traditionally takes place on boxing day. The Wren is supposedly hunted in order to seek retribution for the murder of the Robin by the Wren. Gangs of “Wrenboys” would seek to capture a Wren and tie it to a pole that is then paraded through the village. This is the same mythological theme again regarding the new king replacing the old king, and in the Netherlands the name for Wren means “winter king”. We will come back to the Wren and the old king in a moment, for now let us continue to focus on the Robin.

The name Cock Robin only superficially denotes masculinity. In the 16th century minced oaths became very popular. A practice of misspelling or mispronouncing words on purpose so as to reduce their offence. Common examples are saying sugar instead of shit, or fudge rather than fuck. At least two centuries earlier it was very common to substitute Cokk or gog for the word god. The word coc originates in Scots Gaelic and means “encase, sheath, enshrine”, suggesting the bird enshrines the deity. In Scotland the Robin was originally known as the Ruddock, which seems to come from the Gaelic word ruaidhrí meaning “red king”. A reference both to the red of the Robin’s breast, and to the red of the blood that must be spilled for the health of the land. The word ruaidhrí would change through Anglicisation to Roderick, which then truncates to Ruddock. A further shortening of the name would result in Ruddy. During the evolution of languages it is very common to substitute vowels, and the change from a “d” to a “b” is a very common one too. It is therefore only a short hop from Ruddy to Robby. Add to this the introduction of the name Robert from French and it is easy to see how this etymology becomes lost in favour of the simpler explanation that Robin is an abbreviated form of the French Robert.

Will scarlet the Wren?

There is of course another character form the ballads who embodies the colour of red, and that is of course Will Scarlet, Scarlock or Scaldlock. There has long been a theory that Will Scarlet was Robin Hood’s cousin. This is based on the 1650 ballad “Robin the Newly Revived”. In this ballad Will says he is “Robin’s own sister’s son” and that “in Maxfield was I bred and born, my name is young Gamwell”. There is also the question of noble birth, with later ballads suggesting that both Robin and Will may descend from an important family, and of course scholars have locked on to this to assist in the identification of “the real historic Robin Hood”.

There is 14th centenary poem “The tale of Gamelyn”, which tells the story of a son who’s farther dies when he is still an infant, and who then spends many years fighting his brother for possession of the lands and inheritance. He ends up for a time in the forest, joining an outlaw band lead by a “outlaw king”. Eventually after many adventures he wins back his lands.

Another ballad, “Robin and Gandlyn”, is considered by most not to be a Robin Hood ballad at all. It tells the tale of Robin and Gandlyn out hunting in the forest, when Gandlyn’s friend Robin is slain by a little boy named Wrennock of Donne. Gandlyn and Wrennock then compete in an archery contest where each shoots for the others heart. After Wrennock misses, Gandlyn successfully avenges Robin. The Ballard appears to allude to the hunting of the Wren at midwinter, and also echoes the sorry of how Llew Llaw Gyffes from Welsh mythology gained his name. His name means “the lion with steady hand”, and he was so named after his mother Arianrhod saw him shoot a wren in the leg between it’s sinew and it’s bone. It is possible then that Will Scarlet is representative of the wren, or the old king who’s fate it is both to kill the Robin and in turn be murdered by him. Perhaps it is this that the name Will Scarlet is alluding too, the scarlet red blood of the sacrificial king.

Wren wife of the Robin?

Let us come back to this name Jenny Wren. It seems clear that the folklore surrounding the Wren has confused sexuality. On the one hand the Wren is the king of the birds. One old story has it that the king of the birds would be selected based on who could fly the highest and farthest. One by one the other birds dropped out of the race until only the Eagle was left, as he too began to tire, the little Wren popped out from under the Eagle’s feathers and flew above the Eagle taking his place as king of the birds through an act of trickery. On the other hand the Wren is seen as female, and wife to the robin as in “Robin and wren, gods cock and hen”. I believe the sexual ambiguity of the wren is the key to unlocking the remainder of the mystery.

The wren is known to be an important bird in Celtic mythology, it’s Welsh name dryw being related to both the words for druid and oak tree. In Scotland and Ireland the wren has been known in recent times as wran, ran, wrannie or rannie. In Welsh there is a similar word wran which is used for “elemental spirit”, and in Scots Gaelic there is a word that sounds an awful lot like the word wren, rìghinn prononced “ree-(y)in)”, and the literal meaning of this word is “king-woman” or “king-wife” (righ + bhean). This would fit very well as the opponent/wife of Robin, the red-king. So perhaps the sexual ambiguity of the wren was not introduced by the adding the name Jenny to to wren, but is a reflection of a mystery that is far older. The word rìghinn more specifically means “maiden-queen”, a direct reference to Briganti as the goddess of sovereignty, and the root of the welsh Rhianna who is also a maiden sovereignty goddess.

So now we have both “old-king” and “maiden-queen” meanings for the Wren. One possibility here is that in the evolution from Gaelic to Brythonic the meaning flipped from maiden to hag (Welsh (g)wrach, Cornish wragh). The maiden hag flip exists in the mythology too. In Irish mythology Niall kissed the crone at the holy spring, after each of his brothers had refused to do so. When he did she changed into a beautiful maid and told him she was the sovereignty of Ireland. Her ugliness was a sign that it was not easy to attain the kingship. Likewise in Arthurian mythology Gwain marries a crone. When they retire to his chamber after the wedding she changes into a beautiful young woman and tests him by asking him if she should be beautiful during the day or the night. Gwain maintains it is her choice, and because he passes the test she remains beautiful all the time.

Further evidence for the hag/crone association with the Wren comes from the Scottish practice of “ringing the Millen Bridle” which is effectively a form of assisted suicide for the those who deemed them selves to be “to long alive”. As part of this custom the phrase “wran’s flesh, come oot thy way” was chanted through the bedroom key hole. A clear association between “wran” and the hag here, and also a reference to Briganti too.

What all this seems to point to is a confusion between the sacrificial king and the deity to whom he is sacrificed. But perhaps it is not confusion at all? We are very familiar with the confused god-king concept in Christianity, where the sacrificial king (Jesus) is often confused with the deity (God).

Coming back to the Robin

Just to add in a little more confusion there is also an alternative meaning for the word Ruddock, the word that used to mean Robin Redbreast in Scotland. Ruddock can also mean “haggard old woman”. Here the red-king and his antagonist seem to have swapped places. What is clear though is that there is a mythology involving the Robin and the Wren as sacrificial kings, who’s fight is part of the turning of the seasons. The champion is king who marries the goddess of sovereignty, and the looser is the sacrifice. It is a story also expressed in the myth of the oak and holly king, as well as in Arthurian mythology as the battle between Gwyn ap Nudd (an underworld king) and Gwythyr for the hand of Creiddylad.

One of the oldest Robin Hood ballads is “The Death of Robin Hood”, and it is filled with mythological symbolism. In the ballad, Robin is betrayed by his cousin, the prioress of Kirklees who bleeds him too much (bleeding was a common cure in the middle ages), and she then allows Red Roger or Rodger of Doncaster who she is in love with stab Robin. Yet again, we have links to the Christian devil in “old Roger”, and or course Red Roger once again could originate with ruaidhrí meaning red-king, rather than the accepted entomology from the High German Hrodgar meaning “famous spear”. Doncaster is of course named after the welsh Mother Goddess Don. And it is interesting to note that in the two versions of Robin’s death we have looked at here, robin has been killed by Wrennock of Donne, and by Rodger of Doncaster. In Welsh mythology the House of Don is the family of the Goddess Don, the equivalent of the Irish Tuatha Dé Danann (children of Danu). Donn in Irish mythology on the other hand is an underworld god of death, and the the house of Donn is understood to be another name for the otherworld. This of course fits the narrative very well as the underworld king (like Gwyn ap Nudd), who is in competition with another king for the hand of the maiden-queen.

The Ballard also contains a number of other important mythological themes. Firstly, there are women lining the route Robin takes and weeping for him before he is actually on his deathbed. This crying for someone still alive might suggests a ritual killing. Robin also refuses a guard seeming to understand and accept his fate. Then there is the old woman at the ford who is reminiscent of the Scottish bean-nighe, the washer-woman who is regarded as an omen of death.

Robin the goddess?

By now it should be very clear that what we are dealing with is an annual regeneration myth, like many of the others that have been mentioned thus far. Over the years there has been a lot of confusion and conflation of the characters so that there is not a clear line between the old-king and the red-king. It is not clear who’s blood is spilled and who is who, but that in it’s self might be part of the on-going cyclical seasonal mystery. There is also confusion between the red-king and the goddess, but again, this could be understood as the red-king being the earthly representative of, or the sacrificial priest of the goddess. The red-king is a go-between connecting the world of humans to the world of the gods.

This conflation between Robin Hood as the red-kind and the goddess can be further seen in place names. Throughout the country are many wells, churches, stones and crosses dedicated to lady, our lady or Mary (either virgin or Magdalene). Almost all of these represent a continuation of the pan-Celtic deity Briganti who was very important in this area. So where we find crosses or stones dedicated to both the Lady and Robin, we have to wonder why it would be dedicated to the go-between, and not simply to the maiden-queen directly. The reason for this is the conflation of the entomology, with Robin descending from both rìghinn and ruaidhrí because the alternative form of rìghinn is rìbhinn which easily Anglicises to Robin. The word also shows up in Welsh mythology as the Hag of the Mist Gwrach-y-Rhibyn, another harbinger of death where once again the maiden meaning has flipped to hag.

It is worth at this point focusing on the character of Maid Marian for a moment. It is well known at Marian was not included in the early ballads, and it is believed that she entered the story from a separate unrelated but pre-existing May Day or mumming play tradition. Marian means “of Mary”, and as mentioned Mary is really code for Briganti in her maiden-queen aspect. It is possible that due to the the sexual ambiguity of rìghinn/ rìbhinn that both the goddess and her red-king go-between were understood to be part of the same androgynous deity, but the introduction of the french Robert resulted in a masculine Robin and the feminine aspect was lost. The introduction of Maid Marian then as Robin’s consort is really the re-inclusion of the feminine into the mythology, and really it is Robin who is the consort of the Marian goddess to whom he will be sacrificed.

Another candidate for the Old King

There is of course another important character to consider. We have discussed Robin Hood, Maid Marian and Will Scarlet, but there is another important character that adds yet more weight to this argument, and that is of course Little John.

The earliest reference we have to the character Little John is from 1420, but by this time the he is known to have been a popular character in the Robin Hood plays, particularly in Scotland. Much earlier than this though, we know that in the 12th century the term “little Johns” was used to refer to Cornish (and later to the Welsh). The explanation for this is that Cornishmen were short in stature or loyal too/the offspring of King John.

The name John at first glance appears to be Hebrew for “god is gracious”, so it must have been introduced by the early Christians. Because Hebrew has never been spoke here, it is unlikely it would have retained this meaning and this meaning makes little sense of the Cornishmen being referred to as “little Johns”. A clue can be found by looking at the related name Jenkin, which is linked to the May games as another name for Jack-in-the-Green. Jenkin normally understood to be a combination of John-kin. What is interesting is the -kin suffix was unknown before the 12th century, yet the name Jenkin appears in the doomsday book a centenary before that.

When the name Jenkins is translated into Irish Gaelic, it results in Seincín. The theory here is that if the name Jenkin has an older root in Scots Gaelic, then this translation must resemble the original word that was anglicised from Gaelic in the first place. One strong possibility then is that Jenkin(s) originates form sean meaning “old” and ceann for “head”. Sean is pronounced “shan” which is easily mutated to “jan” and we also know that when ceann is anglicised it results in “kin”. This can be seen clearly in the Irish place name Saencheann, or Old Head in County Cork. Here the word “head” is used to denote the end or head of a piece of land. And in this light we can see more clearly why the Cornish and Welsh might be referred to as little johns, in that they live on a peninsular of land.

In Irish Gaelic ceann can also mean the head of a group of people, or a chief/king. We can see this in Welsh/Cornish too with the name Jenkins understood as Siencyn with cyn meaning “chief” in Welsh. And so once again we have a reference to the old-king, the rival of the red-king for the hand of the maiden-queen.

Of course the Robin Hood mythology could be seen to hint at this with the staff duel between Robin and John, with the challenger overcoming the incumbent champion. Unlike the Robin and the Wren though, Robin and John do not kill each other, but rather Robin invites John to join his merry men and the two become close friends. This is more like the self-sacrificial king, an example of which is the fisher king of Autherian legend. Here the “old king” is wounded and unable to re-fertilise the land, requiring another figure to step in and help. If we now understand that Jenny is just a shortened familiar form of Jenkin, then we are once again brought to the understanding that Jenny Wren is the old king.

Conclusion

What has been shown then is that Robin Hood has roots far older than ordinarily supposed, and that the major characters represent the battle between summer and winter for the hand of the spring maiden-queen. This is paralleled in many other stories that teach of the cycle of the seasons, and celebrations were focused around the May Day. We can see that the mythology has become confused over the centuries as Robin Hood has adapted to the changing times, resulting in a lot of confusion of the character roles.

There is one final point I would like to explore further, and that is the fact that in Celtic times May Day was known as Beltane, named after the God Belenus/Beli. We don’t really know much about Beli for sure, like most of the other Celtic deities for that matter. But it is believed however that he is either a sky/sun god, or a god of healing wells and we know the Romans equated him with Apollo. Apollo had a vary wide range of attributes. He was a god of light, music, healing and many other things. One of these other attributes though was archery which of course Robin Hood is famous for. Also, another interpretation for the name Belenus has it from the Greek belos meaning “arrow”. It is also not unusual for sacrificial red-kings to also be solar deities. There is clearly some connection between Beli and Robin given that the Robin Hood games and plays largely revolved around Beltane, but what exactly that connection is remains unclear.

I think at this point I have clearly shown that the stories of Robin Hood are rooted in ancient mythology, and not based on an obscure historical personage. The very reason that scholars have failed to identify the real Robin Hood is that they are searching for someone who never existed. Instead we can see that we are dealing with a seasonal regeneration myth dealing with the old king, new king and goddess of sovereignty. A truly ancient story with evidence of both Brythonic and Goidelic language influence. We have seen there are parallel themes in other myths that have helped us to understand this one and we have followed the threads to find multiple streams of evidence to back up the theory. I believe this work nicely contributes to what I have already published on the gods of Mansfield and elaborates on the subject somewhat, accepting that Robin Hood is in fact a local deity and representative of the virility and abundance of the forest.

References:

https://www.boldoutlaw.com/

https://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/robyn-and-gandelyn

https://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/gest-of-robyn-hode

https://robinhoodlegend.com/robin-hood-place-names/

Robin Hood by John Matthews

https://stevemoxon.co.uk/robin_hood_name_origin_myth_etymology/

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