ROBIN HOOD’S favourite forest fair was venison, especially in the autumn when the
stags had put on fat - the expression was ‘a hart in grease’ - but the connection
with deer seems to run deeper than that. My walks include a medieval deer park and
forest where you could imagine the outlaw and his band hunting but in the Robin Hood
ballads there are some intriguing echoes of some of the deer stories of folklore.
As I explained yesterday, I’m following the career of Robert Hode, the Yorkshire
candidate for the historical Robin Hood. It would be difficult to live in medieval
Wakefield and not to be familiar with deer; with the Lord of the Manor’s Old Park
to the east of the town, the New Park to the west and Sandal Castle’s Deer Park to
the south. However local tradition has it that Robin used to set off to the more
distant Deer Park at Rothwell Manor House, later the home of John of Gaunt.
After heading through Wakefield’s Outwood, so the story goes, Robin would meet up
with fellow poachers at Robin Hood’s Well, which I believe stood alongside the Wakefield
to Leeds at what is now Robin Hood, a former mining village in the so-called Rhubarb
Work in Progress
I should explain that these drawings, coloured in Photoshop, are my roughs for the
stories. Once I’ve mapped out the page layouts, I’ll start the final artwork but
now is the time to experiment.
Little John lures the Sheriff into Barnsdale Forest on the pretext of showing him
a fine hart.