Nottingham loves living history. With the galleries of justice and the awesome Caves of Nottingham! I love living history too, it’s a fantastic way to engage visitors, to heighten the experience, I am a firm believer in good interpretation leading to better visitor experiences!
However, May is Robin Hood month! A mediaeval celebration. Great! But putting on a month “celebration” simply because a new film is coming out, seems a bit of a cop out to me.
“As part of the celebrations around the release of the new Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood, Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council have declared May as ‘Robin Hood Month’ with a range of exciting events for everyone to get involved.”
Taken from the Nottinghamshire county council website
A piggy back on the hype of a potential blockbuster? It seems like Nottingham is trying to dupe the public into spending money on what amounts to film merchandise. Is that what being proud of your heritage has come to? Selling it as a spin off to a film?
Perhaps I’m being overly negative, so off we went to major oak in the heart of Sherwood forest and saw some very good archers dressed like merry men and yes it was very entertaining. But then there was the stalls shaped like castles selling Robin Hood related tat. It felt fake and to be honest I felt uncomfortable and a little bit cheated. They didn’t bring the legend to life. They didn’t tell me anything about the history of Sherwood forest, or the legend of Robin Hood. Perhaps I’m too old and disillusioned for the story of Robin Hood, lots of little people seemed to enjoy playing with brightly coloured plastic bows and arrows.
But I wanted storytelling and spectacle, a lesson in mediaeval archery, a talk on how the bows were made, an explanation about this amazing oak tree, and how it’s now being conserved, I wanted engagement and most of all I wanted facts.
I loved the caves of Nottingham because that’s what they provided (see my blog post on the caves here), they don’t treat the audience as naive, they engage and they bring the history of Nottingham to life, a history that people might not be aware of.
That’s the problem with Robin Hood, from Disney, BBC, Kevin Costner, maid Marian (which was ace) and now Russell Crowe, everyone knows what and who robin hood was. But this is also the most brilliant opportunity! Comparing the glamorised blockbuster with reality, what was it really like in mediaeval Nottingham, did Robin Hood really exist, where was his camp? Where were the villages? Were villagers really taxed turnips? Who was maid Marian? Why was friar tuck fat? And was the sheriff of Nottingham really such a nasty chap? Now that would be a month of Robin Hood worth seeing!
You can make your own mind up about Robin Hood month, there’s loads of activities on. Perhaps I just woke up on the wrong side of bed,perhaps I saw the wrong event, so enough negativity here’s a clip from maid Marian!