The National Archives Uniting the Kingdoms?
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Myths & Legends


Robin Hood

The outlaw leader of Sherwood Forest is a legendary character familiar to all, but there is no concrete documentary evidence for his existence. A reference to penalties levied from a Robert Hod can be found in the York assizesGlossary term - opens in a pop-up window of 1225, and a story from 1702 claims that Robin's grave was at Kirklees, inscribed with the date 1247. However, the legend was probably in existence from at least 1261, when the fugitive William son of Robert the smith was referred to in a royal document as William 'Robehod'. Instances of outlaws being given the name Robin Hood from the late thirteenth century onwards demonstrate that the legend had given them a sense of notoriety. They were later seen as part of a romantic tradition that represented the struggle of the oppressed against the tyranny of the ruling classes.

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