For within his mind he imagined
That when such matches were,
Those outlaws stout, without [all] doubt,
Would be the bowmen there.
So an arrow with a golden head
And shaft of silver white,
Who won the day should bear away
For his own proper right.
(from "Robin Hood and the Silver Arrow")
Fans of the tales of Robin Hood – either from the actual English ballads or the movies like “The Adventures of Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn (still the best) will remember the trap set by the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham using an archery contest, where the prize would be a silver arrow with a golden head. The Sheriff knew Robin and his men couldn’t resist the competition and sure enough, they showed up in disguise, with Robin winning the contest, getting the arrow and (in the movie) a kiss from Marian. It’s all a legend … right? Not according one man who claims he found the arrowhead from the actual silver arrow in Sherwood Forest … which just might be definitive proof that Robin Hood was a real person.
“In medieval times, where the arrow was found would have been in the very heart of Sherwood Forest, and just a stroll away from the Major Oak. This is the first time that I have ever heard of a medieval arrow being found so close to where Robin Hood lived.”
It’s forgivable that Gemma Howarth is excited about the find – she’s the senior site manager at the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre at Edwinstowe in Sherwood Forest near the famous Major Oak where Robin and the boys allegedly had their encampment/hideout. Kush Wray is excited too. He was on his first trip to Sherwood Forest and decided to do some magnet fishing – a popular British underwater version of walking of walking with a metal detector – in the stream near the Major Oak. It was there that he pulled up – on his first try, no less – a blunt silver arrowhead. The blunt point is an indication the arrow was never fired – which makes sense if it was a trophy.
“Finding Robin Hood’s arrow is about as spectacular as it gets.”
OK, Kush … let’s not get carried away just yet. It’s been just a week since he found it. The Sun cites unnamed historians who it claims have already looked at the arrowhead, dated it to the 12th or 13th century, and said it would look like silver when cleaned and buffed. There’s a few red flags in that assessment, starting with the fact the source is The Sun and a search has pulled up no other non-tabloid sources – including the Sherwood Forest visitor centre. The arrowhead will ‘look’ like silver when cleaned and polished -- even though the traditional ballad says the head was gold -- and its age is an educated guess. Finally, while there are some robbers and crooks who could be Robin Hood, his and the Merry Men’s actual existence has never been confirmed.
However, there’s one positive sign for wanna-believers -- the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, which records archaeological objects found by the public, is bringing in an expert to examine the arrowhead. Talk about pressure – the existence of the legendary Robin Hood rests on this expert’s assessment of the arrowhead.
High Sheriff of Nottingham: I hope our little golden hook will catch the fish.
Prince John: You hope?
High Sheriff of Nottingham: Oh it will... if he's here.
Prince John: If he's not we'll stick your head upon the target and shoot at that.
(from "The Adventures of Robin Hood" movie)
Of course, the expert won’t have as much pressure as the Sheriff of Nottingham, who despite luring the Robin Hood ‘fish’ in the movie and avoiding becoming the bull’s-eye, failed to catch it. Did magnet fisherman Kush Wray catch it?