Just realised I've not posted anything visual for a few days. So oin the spirit of old Liverpool here's a map I found showing where the 'sea lake' and 'the pool' used to be, overlaid on a current map.
Apologies for the short break in service. Went to see Henry IV with Anthony Sher at the RSC ( very good but not as wowed by himself as I hoped I'd be) and their public understudy performance of The White Devil, which I have to say was absolutely fantastic, and I doubt the regular leads could have done better. Fascinating production and the way the assistant director managed the understudies covering multiple roles was inspired. The staging would be very worthy of a regular production, and added very positively by having the same actress as both romantic lead females.
Will be returning to Abercromby Square stuff shortly.
Just finished my draft chapter on Abercromby Square 4000BD to 1200AD ( not a long chapter, not much happened that was recorded) when I came across a really good book covering the same period. Bright side, it seems to support what I've already written so either I'm on the right track, or we're both similarly decieved by history.
And yes, it might be fairly limited, but there is a history of the ground that would become the Square pre-Liverpool.
I'm afraid I'll be off the 'tinterweb for a couple of days so no updates. I know, you're gutted aren't you? You'll miss me and sob into your pillow, bereft of my nuggets of wisdon and knowledge. Some of you may write little poems about how empty your life is without me. I swear I'm not seeing another social media behind your back. Try and be brave.
I'll be back soon and I'll make it up to you then, I promise.
So, I hear a Mrs Trellis of North Wales ask why the myth isn't true? Apart from the fact I made it up. Well...
- The Robin Hood stone at Calderstones was only named this relatively recently. Previously it was the 'Archer's Stone', and nothing to do with the story, just because of the scratch patterns on it. It is probably one of the originally Calder Stones moved by a farmer.
- Huntington exists, but was owned by the Church, not an Anglo Saxon Earl, and they don't give up property easily so wouldn't have handed it back to a noble.
- Chester has excellent records back to Roman times, and no mention of Robin Hood.
- I made it up.
- Cheshire longbowmen were famous in the 1200s, but only after about 1280, when the English first got mauled by the Welsh longbow archer.
- Liverpool was a fishing village and army port, and made next to nothing in taxes compared to anywhere else in 1207. It had only just been built and had seven streets and about as many actual houses.
- Any taxes they were would either have gone by sea (as it was a port), or North to Lancaster by Scotland Road, not through Warrington.
- Piers Plowman mentions Robin Hood and Radolf Earl of Chester, but as different stories.
- I made it up.
- It doesn't match any other early source, which puts a historical Robin in Yorkshire at Barndale, or refers to a generic highwayman ( The Robinhod).
- King John may have founded Liverpool, but his physical connection with the place is minimal. Robin Hood's is less.
- I made it up.
On a serious note, its good practice for me, to teach me not to bend the evidence to fit the thoeory, however much I might want to. Something I swear on Robin's stone I shall resist doing. Of course back in the swirling mists of time anything is possible, and it could all be co-incidentally true, if hugely improbably. But so could dragons and Liver Birds for all we'll ever know.
Okay then, what do we know? Robin Hood was allegedly an anglo-saxon Earl, often referred to as the Earl of Huntington, disposessed of his land by the evil King John. An archer, he robbed John's tax collectors from the safety of the forest.
In 1207, King John created the Town of Liverpool, in no small part because of his dislike of the Earls of Chester and their port taxes. At the time King John re-allocated lands in the North West in his own favour from anglo saxon landowners, and raised revenue from his newly formed towns.
Huntington Hall has been in existence just outside Chester since the Domesday book, where its listed with a hall, holdings and slaves. This could theoretically have been Robin's home. In fact, the earliest literary reference, the fourteenth century poem Piers Plowman, mentions Robin Hood and Randulf of Chester in the same breath. Cheshire archers were world famous longbowmen from the 1200s. The main path to take taxes to the nearest Mersey crossing at Warrington from the new town of Liverpool in 1207 would have been up the hill and through the track leading into and beyond the heavily forested Toxteth Park. The path was known as Smithdown Lane. Robbing the taxes from the new town would have really pissed John off.
Calderstones has an ancient memorial known as Robin Hood's Stone.
Told you it was easy to make this shit up. While there are several reasons while this story is highly dubious on every count ( not least the fact I just made it up), every detail given above is actually true. Though I may have omitted other facts. And been very careful of some of the wordings.
The lesson. Don't believe all you read at face value. Particularly about ancient history and the creative use of circumstantial facts to 'prove' things. Except my book. Believe everything in my book.
In speculation gone wild I've managed to half convince myself that Robin Hood existed and plied his trade around Parliament Street. While I came up with the theory partly to highlight how you can convince yourself of anything if you squint hard enough and are selective about evidence, its interesting that I probably found as much circumstantial evidence in a couple of hours as exist for many other myths and rumours that people believe about the history of the city. Anyone want to hear it?
ps Of course it can't actually be true, just imagine the idea of someone in a hoodie robbing people on the streets of Liverpool, and then hiding out and the common diesfranchised people of the locality hiding him from the authorities. Ridiculous notion to suggest that has ever gone on. Bet the Daily Mail would run it though.