In the twentieth century it has mainly been America that has made the most significant contribution to the legend of Robin Hood. It is through Hollywood and particularly two major films, the energetic 1922 Douglas Fairbanks production and the 1938 Technicolor classic with Errol Flynn, ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood,’ that our modern image of the outlaw has evolved.
The early British colonists exported the ballads and stories of Robin Hood with them, to many parts of the world, particularly Australia and the USA. And it is testament to the phenomenal popularity of the outlaw and the legacy of those medieval entertainers that so many places today exist bearing the name of characters or places from the legend. There are currently 11 Sherwoods in America!
So it was very interesting for me recently to discover Avalon’s blog. Avalon is a Native American who has an interest in both the Arthurian and Robin Hood legends. On Robin Hood she says, “I have read numerous books on the legend since childhood and I definitely believe the ballads were based on actual people, embellished and diminished through the generations, but originated from truth.” Avalon is currently enjoying the recent BBC series ‘Robin Hood’ with Jonas Armstrong and Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne (she admits to having an infatuation with Richard Armitage).
Avalon has very kindly agreed to let me reproduce some research she carried out on streets in America named after characters in the Robin Hood legend. The pictures of the road signs were taken during a cycle ride she took with her children through a neighbourhood known as ‘Sherwood Forest’ in Rome, Georgia. She explains:
“The kids and I decided to ride through Sherwood with me pulling over and taking photos of street signs. It was near 72 today (the warmest day so far) and many people were out on the lawns, looking at me like I was some lunatic. A mail carrier stopped and asked me who I was searching for and I said "A street with the name of Allan A Dale!" He thought I was a fruit loop!”
These are the results of Avalon’s survey, (I have omitted the Arthurian names):
"Below is an estimate of streets named after different medieval legends (various spellings including streets, roads, circle, manors, etc). Most states have only a few except the Southern States, which have MANY, thus upholds my theory regarding Southerners' infatuation with the medieval era.
In America there are about 146 streets titled Sherwood Forest
North Carolina- 12
And 2,126 with just Sherwood (which may or may not have anything to do with Robin Hood).
Nottingham 1,058North Carolina- 56
Robin Hood 288
North Carolina- 14
Lady or Maid Marian 107
Will Scarlett 27
Little John 276
Allan A Dale 31
Friar Tuck 170
And poor Much only 1
Sir Guy or Sir Gisborne 17"
I want to thank Avalon for allowing me to use her pictures and research. I am sure you will agree it is very interesting and ties in nicely with Albie’s recent pictures of the real Sherwood Forest.
Avalon’s blog is listed in the right hand column of my web site and can be reached here http://avalon-medieval.blogspot.com/