Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest
Map showing the location of Sherwood Forest
Map showing the location of Sherwood Forest
LocationNottinghamshire, England
Coordinates53°12′16.09″N 1°4′21.94″W / 53.2044694°N 1.0727611°W / 53.2044694; -1.0727611

Sherwood Forest is the remnants of an ancient royal forest in Nottinghamshire, England, having an historic association with the legend of Robin Hood.

The area has been wooded since the end of the Last Glacial Period (as attested by pollen sampling cores). Today Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve encompasses 424.75 hectares (1,049.6 acres),[1] surrounding the village of Edwinstowe and the site of Thoresby Hall. Its name is derived from its status as the shire (or sher) wood of Nottinghamshire, which extended into several neighbouring counties (shires), bordered to the west by the River Erewash and the Forest of East Derbyshire.

When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086 the forest covered perhaps a quarter of Nottinghamshire (approximately 19,000 acres or 7,800 hectares) in woodland and heath subject to the forest laws. The forest gives its name to the Parliamentary constituency of Sherwood.

Mansfield anciently became the pre-eminent in importance among the towns of the Forest.[2]

Robin Hood Statue, Sherwood Forest


In 1066, in the invasion of England, King William the Conqueror made Sherwood Forest a Royal Hunting Forest.[3][4] Sherwood Forest was frequently visited by the Mercian Kings.[2]

The forest became popular with John, King of England and King Edward I of England. The remains of a hunting lodge can be found at Kings Clipstone named King John's Palace.[5][4]

After King Henry VIII of England in 1536 Dissolution of the monasteries the land of Sherwood was sold and granted into private ownership which was converted into house estates. King James VI and I in the 1600s visited the forest, as did King Charles I of England. King Charles II of England brought back under control the management of Sherwood Forest.[5][2]

In the 1700s large areas of Sherwood crown land were sold to private owners who built the estates of Thoresby Hall, Rufford Abbey, the former Clumber House Clumber Park, Welbeck Abbey and Worksop Manor. These estates became known as the Dukeries. Newstead Abbey was also built whilst in private ownership.[5]

King John's Palace


Sherwood Forest is established over an area underlain by the Permian and Triassic age New Red Sandstone.[6] The larger part of the Forest is found across the outcrop of pebbly sandstones known as the Chester Formation. The regional dip is a gentle one to the east, hence younger rocks are found in that direction and older ones exposed to the west. The local stratigraphy is (uppermost/youngest at top):

The sandstone is an aquifer providing a local water supply. Quaternary deposits include river sands and gravels, river terrace deposits and some scattered mid-Pleistocene glacial till. There are 41 local geodiversity sites within the Sherwood NCA; these are largely quarries and river sections.[8]

Management and conservation

View of the Forest looking northeast

The Sherwood Forest Trust is a small charity that cover the ancient royal boundary and current national character area of Sherwood Forest.[9] Its aims are based on conservation, heritage and communities but also include tourism and the economy.

A glade in Sherwood at winter time.

Nottinghamshire County Council and Forestry England jointly manage the ancient remnant of forest north of the village of Edwinstowe, providing walks, footpaths and a host of other activities.[10]

This central core of ancient Sherwood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI),[11] NNR[12] and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).[13] It is a very important site for ancient oaks, wood pasture, invertebrates and fungi, as well as being linked to the legends of Robin Hood.

During the Second World War parts of Sherwood Forest were used extensively by the military for ammunition stores, POW camps and training areas.[14] Oil was produced at Eakring.[15] After the war large ammunition dumps were abandoned in the forest and were not cleared until 1952, with at least 46,000 tons of ammunition in them.[16]

Birch trees in Sherwood Forest

Part of the forest was opened to the public as a country park in 1969 by Nottinghamshire County Council, which manages a small part of the forest under lease from the Thoresby Estate. In 2002 a portion of Sherwood Forest was designated a national nature reserve by English Nature. In 2007 Natural England officially incorporated the Budby South Forest, Nottinghamshire's largest area of dry lowland heath, into the Nature Reserve, nearly doubling its size from 220 to 423 hectares (540 to 1,050 acres).[17]

A new Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre was authorised in 2015. In August 2018 the RSPB opened the new development with a shop and café, having been granted permission to manage the woods in 2015. Part of an agreement with Natural England was that the land where the existing 1970s visitor centre was located would be restored to wood pasture.[18][19][20]

Some portions of the forest retain many very old oaks, especially in the portion known as the Dukeries, south of the town of Worksop, which was so called because it used to contain five ducal residences.

The River Idle, a tributary of the Trent, is formed in Sherwood Forest from the confluence of several minor streams.


Visitor Centre

Sherwood attracts around 350,000 tourists annually, many from other countries.[21] Each August the nature reserve hosts a week-long Robin Hood Festival. This event recreates a medieval atmosphere and features the major characters from the Robin Hood legend. The week's entertainment includes jousters and strolling players dressed in medieval attire, in addition to a medieval encampment complete with jesters, musicians, rat-catchers, alchemists and fire eaters.[22]

The Sherwood Forest Art and Craft Centre is in the former coach house and stables of Edwinstowe Hall.[23] The centre contains art studios and a cafe and hosts special events, including craft demonstrations and exhibitions.

Thoresby Hall

Other local sites are Thoresby Hall Park[24] and Rufford Abbey country park. Rufford Abbey is owned by English Heritage with the park managed by Parkwood Outdoors.[25] Clumber Park is a former estate of Clumber House. The park is owned by the National Trust.

Rufford Abbey

Major Oak

Main article: Major Oak

Major Oak

Sherwood Forest is home to the Major Oak, an oak tree between 800 and 1,000 years old, and since the Victorian era, its limbs have been partially supported by scaffolding. In February 1998 a local company took cuttings from the Major Oak and began cultivating clones of the famous tree with the intention of sending saplings to be planted in major cities around the world.[citation needed]

The Major Oak was featured on the 2005 BBC TV programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the natural wonders of the Midlands.[citation needed]


Main article: Thynghowe

Thynghowe, an important Danelaw meeting place where people came to resolve disputes and settle issues, was lost to history until its rediscovery in 2005–06 by local history enthusiasts[26] amidst the old oaks of an area known as the Birklands. Experts believe it may also yield clues about the boundary of the ancient Anglo Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria.

English Heritage inspected the site, confirming that it was known as ‘Thynghowe’ in 1334 and 1609.[27][28]

See also


  1. ^ "Sherwood Forest NNR". Natural England. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c William Horner Groves, The History of Mansfield, (1894) retrieved on the 8th April 2023
  3. ^ Visit Nottinghamshire, The History of Sherwood web retrieved on the 8th April 2023
  4. ^ a b Robert White,The Dukery, and Sherwood Forest, (1875) retrieved in the 8th April 2023
  5. ^ a b c cite web Nottinghamshire County Council, History of Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood and Major Oak, 2023 retrieved on the 8th April 2023
  6. ^ Reed, Michael (1990). "The land of Britain". The Landscape of Britain: From the Beginnings to 1914. London: Routledge. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-415-01297-3. OCLC 39848675. Archived from the original on 9 November 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  7. ^ "GeoIndex Onshore". British Geological Survey. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  8. ^ "NCA profile 49. Sherwood". Natural England. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Home - The Sherwood Forest Trust Nottinghamshire". The Sherwood Forest Trust Nottinghamshire. Archived from the original on 24 August 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Sherwood Forest". Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Magic Map Application". Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  12. ^ "Nottinghamshire's National Nature Reserve". Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Birklands and Bilhaugh". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Sherwood Forest in World War II". Archived from the original on 15 May 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  15. ^ Levine, Joshua (2015). The Secret History of the Blitz. London: Simon & Schuster. pp. 117–130. ISBN 978-1-4711-3102-8.
  16. ^ "Ammunition, Sherwood Forest: 21 Mar 1950: House of Commons debates". TheyWorkForYou. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Sherwood Forest to double in size". BBC News. 21 March 2007. Archived from the original on 22 July 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  18. ^ RSPB chosen to build Nottinghamshire's Sherwood Forest visitor centre Archived 4 December 2020 at the Wayback Machine BBC News Nottingham, 12 August 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2020
  19. ^ Sherwood Forest project: Plans for £5.3m visitor centre unveiled Archived 15 September 2019 at the Wayback Machine BBC News Nottingham, 19 March 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2020
  20. ^ "New Sherwood Forest visitor centre opens". BBC News. 27 August 2018. Archived from the original on 23 March 2019. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  21. ^ "New £5m Sherwood Forest centre opens". BBC News. 27 August 2018. Archived from the original on 10 September 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  22. ^ Visit Sherwood, Robin Hood Festival, cute web retrieved on the 10th April 2023
  23. ^ "Sherwood Forest Art and Craft Centre". Archived from the original on 29 October 2007.
  24. ^ Thoresby Park web retrieved on the 10th April 2023
  25. ^ Rufford Abbey Country Park, Parkwood Outdoors, cite web retrieved on the 10th April 2023
  26. ^ Richard Moss (25 April 2008). "Amateur Archaeologists Find Ancient 'Thyng' In Sherwood Forest". Culture24. Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  27. ^ "Thynhowe". english Heritage. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  28. ^ New £5m Sherwood Forest visitor centre opens Archived 23 March 2019 at the Wayback Machine BBC News Nottingham, 27 August 2018 Retrieved 3 June 2020

Further reading