An enigmatic, unmarked stone monument stands in the shade of the yew trees rooted in the graveyard of a medieval church. Legend says that Will Scarlet, one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men who was supposedly a native of Blidworth, was buried near this weathered pillar in the heart of Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire.
Blidworth’s 15th-century Church of St. Mary of the Purification replaced an earlier Norman church or monastery. It’s probable that Scarlet’s grave is constructed from parts of this earlier structure, though when these architectural relics were assembled into their current squat monumental form and why they became associated with the mortal remains of one of Robin Hood’s henchmen is unknown.
Even if Scarlet existed and was buried in Blidworth, these 600-year-old fragments would have to be to be a later addition to his grave, as the bulk of the Robin Hood legends are set in the 13th century.
Scarlet’s Grave isn’t the only link Blidworth has with the Robin Hood legends. Maid Marian supposedly lived in a cottage opposite the church and was escorted to her wedding with Robin at nearby Edwinstowe by Scarlet himself.
A real-life Robin Hood-esque event, contemporary with the legends, did occur in the village and could have inspired Blidworth’s myths of merry outlaws. In 1276, two archers were caught poaching in Sherwood Forest and imprisoned in the village. As they awaited sentencing by the Sheriff of Nottingham, they met an organized gang of 20 archers and swordsmen, who assaulted the guards and freed the poachers. The identity of this real-life band of 13th-century Sherwood outlaws is not known.
Know Before You Go
Blidworth is well served by buses to Nottingham, Mansfield, and Newark. An eerie crumbling folly nearby also appears to have been constructed out of salvaged fragments of the original place of worship. The grave yard is accessible at all reasonable times during daylight hours. It is still an active burial site, so visitors should behave respectfully.