History & Legend

We’re on a mission – to uncover, share and celebrate the rich heritage of Sherwood Forest, a former medieval Royal Forest stretching for miles and teeming with hidden history.

Find out about our latest heritage projects, made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and lottery players.

We’re unveiling the secrets of World War 2 history within Sherwood Forest in our Spirit of Wartime Sherwood Forest project.

And let’s not forget Robin Hood. History or legend – you decide.



Sherwood’s History

Spirit of wartime

WW2 and sherwood forest

Spirit of Wartime Sherwood

Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’re running a ‘people powered’ history project to uncover the WW2 secrets of Sherwood and North Nottinghamshire.

Become an oral history recorder, help archaeologists map WW2 remains, help write a new tourism trail, and take place in fun community activities. Our Project Officer Susie has lots of projects you could get involved with.

Get a taste of what we’ve been up to on Susie’s blog page.

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Old accounts

Old Accounts of Sherwood Forest

Many modern books have been written about the history of Sherwood Forest, such as Dr Ian Rotherham’s excellent “Sherwood Forest and the Dukeries.

There are also fascinating historical accounts, such as an article on the “Last perambulation of Sherwood Forest, 1662.” The perambulation was a way of marking and recording the legal boundaries which once defined the geography of Sherwood Forest. contains a wealth of source material on the history of Sherwood Forest and Nottinghamshire.

Mercian Archaeology also have an informative list of articles about Sherwood Forest archaeology, and periodic training field schools.

Ancient Oak, Thoresby4 – Copy

Our Ancient Trees

Sherwood Forest is great for lovers of old trees, with almost 400 living ancient oaks and more than 500 veteran oaks.

Sherwood is studded with many dead monoliths which stand guardian to the ancient forest. The Giant’s Trail visits just a few of these amazing natural sculptures, including Stumpy and the Bee Tree, named after the wild honey bee colony within its hollow trunk.

The Major Oak

Probably the most famous Oak Trees in the world, it is estimated to be around 800 to 1000 years old, making it one of the oldest and largest oak trees in Britain. The tree has a massive, gnarled trunk with a circumference of about 10 meters and its branches extend widely, supported by wooden crutches to prevent them from collapsing under their own weight.

Legend has it that the Major Oak was the legendary hideout of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the tree’s association with the Robin Hood tales has contributed to its popularity and folklore over the centuries.

To protect its delicate root system and preserve its longevity, the area surrounding the Major Oak is fenced off, and visitors are not allowed to touch or climb the tree. Despite its age, the Major Oak continues to thrive and serves as a symbol of resilience and natural beauty in Sherwood Forest.

Parliament Oak

The Parliament Oak is another notable tree located in Sherwood Forest, alongside the Major Oak. While it may not be as famous as its counterpart, it holds its own significance in local lore and history.

The Parliament Oak is estimated to be several hundred years old, possibly dating back to the medieval period. It gets its name from a historical event that took place beneath its branches. Legend has it that in the 13th century, King Edward I held a parliament beneath the tree during one of his visits to Sherwood Forest. The tree is said to have provided shade and shelter for the king and his advisors during their discussions.

The tree stands at the edge of Clipstone Forest, and is looked after by The Sherwood Forest Trust. Its proximity to the road has placed it at risk of damage and it has previously been threatened by fly-tipping and overgrowth of nearby vegetation. A fence constructed to protect the tree was destroyed and in 2007 The Independent newspaper described the situation as “one of the biggest failings of our heritage protection laws”. A £35,000 project led by The Sherwood Forest Trust and Nottinghamshire County Council was carried out in summer 2008 to restore the area, plant 30 m of new hedgerow, construct two car parking spaces and install an information plaque.

Like the Major Oak, the Parliament Oak has become a symbol of the rich history and natural beauty of Sherwood Forest. It stands as a testament to the enduring presence of ancient trees in the area and continues to attract visitors who come to admire its majestic stature and learn about its storied past.

a forest village through time

A Forest Village Through Time

Edwinstowe, once at the heart of Sherwood Forest, is an attractive village with an active historical society. The parish church of St Mary’s is said to be the place where Robin Hood married Maid Marian.

Coal mining history is also important here. The former Thoresby Colliery is now closed and its site under redevelopment. But not far away is the fascinating volunteer run Bilsthorpe Heritage Museum where visitors can explore the heritage of the industry.


Laxton – A Unique Survival

You may have learned in school history lessons about the medieval ‘strip farming’ system.

Did you know that the Sherwood Forest village of Laxton is one of the last places in Europe where it still exists.

A legally constituted manorial court to arbitrate on boundary disputes and other matters still meets annually – in the village pub!

Find out more at Laxton village Visitor Centre.

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Archaeology & History

Sherwood Forest is legendary, but the real history of Sherwood as a medieval hunting forest is revealed by archaeology and historical documents.

Our associates Mercian Archaeology have carried out numerous surveys and community excavations, working with local people to unveil this hidden history.

And work to unveil the history of Sherwood Forest continues. You could help. Contact us to find out how.

History or legend?

Robin Hood

Sherwood Forest is forever associated in legend, song and story with Robin Hood.

Learn more about the history behind the legend.



Keep up to date with The Sherwood Forest Trust and our projects and events!

Family walking in Sherwood LARGE photo

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