Sherwood Forest

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Sherwood Forest

Sherwood Forest is a royal forest in Nottinghamshire, famous by its historical association with the legend of Robin Hood.

A forest since the end of the Ice Age (as attested by pollen sampling cores), Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve today encompasses 1,045 acres,[1] surrounding the village of Edwinstowe, the site of Thoresby Hall.

The forest that most would associate with the name of Sherwood Forest is actually named Birklands and Bilhaugh. Sherwood is a remnant of an older, much larger, royal hunting forest, which derived its name from its status as the shire (or sher) wood of Nottinghamshire, which extended into several neighbouring counties, bordered on the west along the River Erewash and the Forest of East Derbyshire. When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086, the forest covered perhaps a quarter of Nottinghamshire in woodland and heath subject to the forest laws.

Management and conservation

Birch trees in Sherwood Forest
View of the Forest

The Sherwood Forest Trust are a small charity that covers the ancient royal boundary and current national character area of Sherwood Forest.[2] Their aims are based on conservation, heritage and communities, but also include tourism and the economy.

The local council and the Forestry Commission manages the ancient remnant of forest north of the village of Edwinstowe, and provides walks and trails and a host of other activities.[3]

This central core of ancient Sherwood is a SSSI,[4] NNR,[5] and SAC.[6] It is a very important site for ancient oaks, wood pasture, invertebrates and fungi, as well as being linked to the legends of Robin Hood.

Part of the forest was opened as a country park to the public in 1969 by Nottinghamshire County Council, which manages a small part of the forest under lease from the Thoresby Estate. In 2002, a portion of Sherwood Forest was designated a National Nature Reserve by English Nature. In 2007, Natural England officially incorporated the Budby South Forest, Nottinghamshire's largest area of dry lowland heath, into the Nature Reserve, nearly doubling its size from 544 acres to 1,045 acres.[7]

Some portions of the forest retain many very old oaks, especially in the portion amongst the Dukeries, south of Worksop.

The River Idle, a tributary of the Trent, is formed in Sherwood Forest from the confluence of several minor streams.


Sherwood attracts between 360,000 and 1 million tourists annually, many from other countries.

Each August the nature reserve hosts an annual, week-long Robin Hood Festival. This event recreates a mediæval atmosphere and features the major characters from the Robin Hood legend. The week's entertainment includes jousters and strolling players, dressed in mediæval attire, in addition to a mediæval encampment complete with jesters, musicians, rat-catchers, alchemists and fire eaters.

Throughout the year, visitors are attracted to the Sherwood Forest Art and Craft Centre, which is situated in the former Coach House and Stables of Edwinstowe Hall in the heart of the Forest.[8] The centre contains art studios and a cafe, and hosts special events, including craft demonstrations and exhibitions.

The famous Major Oak

Major Oak

Sherwood Forest is home to the famous Major Oak, which, according to local folklore, was Robin Hood's principal hideout. The oak tree is between 800 and 1,000 years old and, since the Victorian era, its massive limbs have been partially supported by an elaborate system of scaffolding. In February 1998, a local company took cuttings from the Major Oak and began cultivating clones of the famous tree with the intention of sending saplings to be planted in major cities around the world.

The Major Oak was featured on the 2005 BBC television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the natural wonders of the Midlands.

Visitor Centre.


Thynghowe, an important Danelaw meeting place where the men of the district came to resolve disputes and settle issues, was lost to history until its rediscovery in 2005-06 by local history enthusiasts[9] amidst the old oaks of an area known as the Birklands. Experts believe it may also yield clues as to the boundary of the ancient Anglo Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria.

English Heritage have recently inspected the site, and have confirmed it was known as "Thynghowe" in 1334 and 1609.[10]

The name is the Old Danish Þinghaugr ('Council Mound').

Future attractions

The current location of the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre must be moved due to the classification of the area as a Special Area of Conservation.

Outsdie links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Sherwood Forest)


  1. "Sherwood Forest NNR". Natural England. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  2. "Home - The Sherwood Forest Trust Nottinghamshire". The Sherwood Forest Trust Nottinghamshire. 
  3. "Sherwood Forest". 
  4. "Magic Map Application". 
  5. "Nottinghamshire's National Nature Reserve". 
  6. "Birklands and Bilhaugh". 
  7. "Sherwood Forest to double in size". BBC News. 21 March 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  8. "Sherwood Forest Art and Craft Centre". Archived from the original on 2007-10-29. 
  9. Richard Moss (25 April 2008). "Amateur Archaeologists Find Ancient 'Thyng' In Sherwood Forest". Culture24. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  10. "Thynhowe". english Heritage. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 


  • Bankes, Richard. Sherwood Forest in 1609: A Crown Survey (Thoroton Society record series)
  • Conduit, Brian. Exploring Sherwood Forest
  • Fletcher, John. Ornament of Sherwood Forest From Ducal Estate to Public Park
  • Gray, Adrian. Sherwood Forest and the Dukeries (Phillimore) 2008
  • Sherwood Forest and the East Midlands Walks (Jarrold Pathfinder Guides)
  • Innes-Smith, Robert. The Dukeries & Sherwood Forest
  • Ottewell, David. Sherwood Forest in Old Photographs (Britain in Old Photographs)