I just read this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-20146713 and was rendered speechless through a fog of confused and bemused rage.
f you don't know, I used to work at Nottingham castle and on a frequent basis had people asking "Where's the castle?" as they expected the towers and turrets of Hollywood fiction. Also "Where did Marion/The Sherrif/Robin live?" and "Where are the dungeons where Robin was kept?" We would try and give a potted explanation that it's all a lot of stories and legends rolled together from different time periods, and if you really want a Robin Hood hat the gift shop is over there thankyuvermuch.
There are plans to revamp the castle, taking advantage of, and explaining (finally) all that stuff, and using it as a way to link from the legends into the real events and times that spawned and changed the myth (hating the Normans, mocking religious figures, viscous tax collecting needed for Richard's wars, etc). The castle really needs some TLC and this will tap into why a lot of people visit, while also steering them to discover and appreciate the genuine history and stories.
And now, plans near Sherwood Forest for... this!
Go find out more: http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/robinhood/
Now call me a knee jerk reactionary, but this on first glance to me looks like a massive mash up of tourist pulling stereotypical ye medievale experiences, and even better they are working with "Discovery Attractions, whose senior management have experience with Madame Tussauds and Warwick Castle" So... Warwick Castle Dungeon, previously a moving experience, where you could see the carvings by the captives, but now someone in a costume jumps out and yells "boo". A group of Americans who visited Warwick recently told me it was "all a bit more Disney than we expected..." I read more, and felt that my reaction may be justified.
They do talk about bigging up Sherwood forest, and removing the currently badly placed visitor centre, so there are ecological awareness benefits too. "Sherwood Forest is one of the most famous forests in the world and Discovery Attractions' proposal will use a mix of indoor and outdoor experiences to keep families engaged for hours - whatever the weather." IT'S A FOREST. GO OUTSIDE. ENGAGE WITH NATURE. GET WET. PLAY IN MUD.
OK, this proposal is a 'visitor attraction' and not a museum, historical building etc etc. Ted Cantle, who chairs the group working on Nottingham Castle, said: "Sherwood Forest will be much more 'Legend of Robin Hood' but our scheme in the castle, while bringing in Robin Hood, is going to be a much more serious, historical exposition." I get it, the two balance out. So why does the website keep talking about discovering "life in those times" and that you'll be "transported back to 12th Century England"? Being on the site of the renowned Sherwood Forest is a prime chance to tap into the Robin Hood trail without taking advantage of the visitors' assumptions and fuelling the fires of the falsehoods. Or if you want to be an attraction about the storytelling and legend, go for that and clearly ramp up the legend away from the historical elements.
If you think I'm having a rant, perhaps missing the point of somewhere trying to use a popular cultural figure to attract visitors to an ancient woodland and inform them about life in medieval times; then I leave you with:
The Knight's School provides the opportunity to:
DRAGONS?! I missed that bit of medieval history. ffs.
Edit: I’ve realised that the best way to describe my feelings on this is the difference between these two sentences:
“In the 12th century Robin Hood was the only man willing to take a stand against Prince John.”
“Legends set in the 12th century tell of a Robin Hood as the only man willing to take a stand against Prince John.”
The difference with the second sentence is a bit like the disclaimer on some reality type shows – “The following scenes have been created for your entertainment”. Hopefully this entertaining Robin Hood attraction will make it clear that it is a massive mix of fact and fiction, so you shouldn’t take it all at face value, and people will be given the information to help celebrate Robin Hood the myth away from forest outlaws the reality.
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