Nottingham Caves

Trent & Peak Archaeology/The University of Nottingham
Trent & Peak Archaeology/The University of Nottingham

Lasers, GPS, and sandstone, oh my!

Since seeing the Disney version of Robin Hood as a child, I’ve been intrigued by the Robin Hood legends. I believe that many myths and legends have some sort of historical basis, and we already know that the places mentioned in these legends are real.

In fifth grade, I sang “Not in Nottingham” as a merry (wo)man in my school’s fifth grade musical. I still have my painstakingly dyed olive green t-shirt that says “Merry Man” in black block letters on the front. My Girl Scout uniform was what I wore underneath, and I had a cool felt hat and bow to complement my mode rogue.

My grandfather took a lot of photos of that event, and thankfully got what might have been the funniest moment of the year on film. The entire cast and audience were laughing so hard a lot of us had tears in our eyes.

Our Robin Hood was in disguise as a woman, complete with an unflattering baggy dress, aviator sunglasses, and a voluminous blonde wig. Robin also had a large bag slung over one shoulder that concealed his wooden sword.

At the moment he was supposed to tear off his disguise and fence with the villain, he threw down his wig only to discover that his sash was tied too tight. He danced around trying to jump out of the dress for a moment, but he couldn’t get the dress off!

“Robin” yelled, “Aw, fiddlesticks!”, gathered up his dress, and plunged into the swashbuckling scene with Prince John without missing a beat. Seeing this awkward looking peasant in shades going after a caped, crowned, formal-looking Prince John was hysterical.

Later in life I would discover that my distant relatives were Wardens of the Forest and Constables of St. Briavels for the same man (by then King John). Our family name may have even originated there. So my fascination with the whole King John/Little John/Robin Hood/Men in Tights thing has continued.

Last month, Discovery.com featured a piece on the Nottingham Caves survey that’s being conducted right now. Robin Hood was said to be held captive in one of those caves http://news.discovery.com/history/medieval-caves-brought-to-you-in-3-d.html. There are about 450 sandstone caves under Nottingham that are being mapped out by laser and GPS technology.

The details provided by this technology are astounding. The Nottingham Caves website, http://www.nottinghamcavessurvey.org.uk/index.htm, is worth a few minutes of your time. The videos they have on the home page are incredible.

Who knows– they may uncover archaeological evidence of the Robin Hood legend while they’re at it. I certainly hope so.

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Guard: Robin of Locksley, where is your king?
Robin Hood: King? King? And which King might that be? King Richard? King Louis? King Kong? Larry King?
-Robin Hood: Men in Tights, 1993

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©2010 H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com.

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