While Russell Crowe was promoting his film Robin Hood at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, tourist bosses in the English town of Nottingham were rubbing their hands in glee. (Click here for a report on Crowe storming out of a BBC interview about Robin Hood, in a huff.)
The epic movie, premiering in the English Midlands town as well as at Cannes, was expected to generate a tourism bonanza for Nottingham and Sherwood Forest.
Officials at “Visit Nottingham” forecast a ten per cent increase in tourist revenues in 2010 as a result of interest in the area likely to be generated by Ridley Scott’s re-telling of the English legend.
Showing that time moves on, the current Sheriff of Nottingham is a woman, Penny Griggs. She took office in the same week the film premiered. Her administration has organised numerous tourist attractions which will beopen to visitors and holidaymakers in May and beyond.
Nottingham Castle is hosting an exhibition which shows film fans some of what went on behind the scenes as Ridley Scott directed Russell Crowe. ‘City Break’ packages will be available in Nottingham and in Sherwood Forest for those wanting to discover Robin Hood’s folklore and the countryside where he is reputed to have lived with his band of outlaws.
The Nottingham tourist site “Visit Nottingham” describes the land in which Robin Hood’s outlaws would have lived. Sherwood Forest, a land of heath and thickets, was a royal hunting preserve in the 10th Century. Kings went there to stalk deer and hunt with falcons. The forest laws were designed to preserve royal privilege and were enforced by wardens (“verderers”) whose work was to catch and punish commoners who took birds or game or wood from the land. The penalty for being found in Sherwood Forest with a hunting dog was disfigurement for the dog’s owner and the dog too.
Anyone caught with a bow and arrow was likely to be blinded, mutilated or hung. And men who were known to poach on the king’s land but couldn’t be caught were ‘outlawed’ while the people in their village would be forced to pay heavy fines.
The verderers were paid a bounty for catching outlaws like Robin Hood and delivering them to the courts. They were paid the same price for an outlaw as for the severed head of a wolf.
These punitive measures were resisted by bands of outlaws who evaded but also attacked the king’s men. Sherwood Forest was feared as a part of England where attacks by outlaws were commonplace. Travellers journeying along the ‘Kings Great Way’, the road from Nottingham to York, would travel in groups, seeking safety in numbers.
Ridley Scott’s film has inspired so much interest in the legend of Robin Hood that journalists from Australia and the US flocked into the Forest, and into Nottingham, in April and May 2010, to write historical and travel features. And no doubt to review the film at its English premier too.