Monday, 9 May 2011

Robin Hood on (literally!) Hadrian's Wall


I have been meaning to search out a 'Robin Hood' film clip for absolutely ages. (Finally found this one which features the "Sycamore Gap" tree prominently.)


I saw the film, Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves, when it came out (1991) when Hadrian's Wall meant absolutely nothing to me. I would not have recognised this scene at all and like most of the cinema going public I would have been oblivious to its incongruity...

As far as I can recall this scenario is very much "setting the scene". Robin Hood (Kevin Costner) meets up with Azeem (Morgan Freeman) and they decide to take on the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman).

Quite how they have stumbled and walked (very naughty! It's very much frowned upon now.) on Hadrian's Wall (Northumberland) when they are supposed to be in the heart of Nottinghamshire.... (N.B.: Northumberland is Northern England whilst Nottinghamshire is in the middle of the country for those less acquainted with our shores.)


If you look at these actors in this link...you can plainly see the famous "Sycamore Gap" tree behind them which locals now call the "Robin Hood" tree for obvious reasons. Crag Lough (that bit of water pronounced "Crag Loff") also features in this.

My links with Nottingham? I used to work in a pub in Beeston for a while serving behind the bar. The landlord hesitated before taking me on as he thought I was Irish and there were some army barracks nearby. He thought I might be a fifth columnist. (It's not the first time I've been mistaken for being Irish....not that I mind particularly!)

My tenuous link with Alan Rickman? He once towered over me in WHSmith in the old St. Pancras Station whilst I was buying a magazine. He smiled at me thank goodness. I'm not sure that I could have coped with one of his evil glances...as he does those rather well...

The walk from Steel Rigg to Housesteads includes Sycamore Gap...is a good one. Be prepared for some serious ups and downs across the crags. I've also heard that a replacement sycamore tree has been planted to take the place of this famous tree should it ever topple over.

Again...a few things amuse me about this clip:

Azeem asks where "east" is so that he can pray. Kevin (Robin Hood) points to the south. "Are you sure?" "Yes, I would know blindfolded. I am five miles from home!" ("East" follows the line of the Wall over to their left..maybe north and then east towards Newcastle. If anything they are facing south/south west. I know I am nitpicking.)

Azeem exclaims: "Is there no sun in this accursed country?" (Well...yes...a fair bit recently!)

When the fighting takes place between the good guys and the bad guys I can't help thinking about all the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Brigantian, Celtic, Arthurian, Reiver, Jacobite, Monarchist, fighters who probably fought on that same spot at different times (before, during and after the life of Hadrian's Wall) and many, many more...

20 comments:

Lynne said...

I've travelled the Millitary road on numerous occasions, it's a favourite of mine. I always look out for that tree, nice to know they've got a replacement in the wings.
A smile from Alan Rickman, now that is something!

Alienne said...

I had never realised that was Hadrian's Wall. I had also forgotten how much I liked that film; Alan Rickman stole every scene he was in!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Yep...I always look out for the tree as well, Lynne. I've trained the children to do it as well. Got to be careful though because if I look too hard I got drive the car into the ditch on the side of the Military Road! ;)

Alienne...too right it is! I suppose they were looking for a spot where they could shoot it and not have anything in their way. Quite why they chose Sycamore Gap..hard to tell. Maybe the local tourist board had a say in the matter...

Alan Rickman was good - wasn't he? He hams it up a bit but we all love him all the more for it!! :)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Lynne: "I got drive the car". Should be "I could drive the car." I think I'm still visualising the road as I write...there's a huge dip there so you have to be careful that the car doesn't take off - depending on the speed of the car!

Heather Athey said...

I've often wondered what will happen when there are 2 trees in that spot. How will photographers cope with the composition of that? Will the original one be hacked down to make way for his younger brother. I don't suppose I'll ever know....
(the new one is in the dry-stone 'plant pot'. He's not peeping over the top yet)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Many thanks, Heather, for that. I had wondered where they had planted the new one. Now I know! I'm sure a handy tree surgeon will sort out the problem...the "Monty Python" side of me says "we need a tree on wheels!"

(Groan. Bad joke. I know.)

dulwich divorcee said...

Well I never ... saw that film years ago too and loved Alan Rickman in it. I had my own tenuous Alan moment when I saw him on the train from Pisa to Florence. He sat and looked faintly grumpy. That's it. Told you it was tenuous. No smile for me, harrumph.

Sandi McBride said...

Not sure when Hollywood ever gets it right...still waiting on that one! Of course having lived next door to a purported direct decendent of the leader of the merry band, (Violet Loxley) I was often regaled with the stories handed down thru the family...she was quite an actress was our "Bubbles" Violet Loxley!! I miss your beautiful shores so much that I'm sure when my time here is done my soul will just have to wing it's way across the pond to take one more loving look!
HUGS
Sandi

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Oh lovely to see you here, DD! How are you doing?

Sorry, sorry, sorry one thousand, million times...I am getting so rubbish at visiting everyone's blogs. Apologies, grovel, grovel, grovel. Must try and do s.t. about it all.

Often think of us all meeting down South. T'was very nice that was.

I must have caught him in a good mood DD...or maybe I was buying his favourite magazine? ;)

Your encounter was definitely in a more exotic location than mine.
Also - at least you were sitting on a train. I/ we(...I was with my significant ex) had to do that journey by coach one time as the Italian train staff were striking that day. We'd travelled overland from Spain to Italy I recall and it was not a journey for the faint hearted...

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Sandi,

You sneaked in there! What a fantastic story! A real life descendant...telling stories...absolutely fab!!!! Now I'm jealous....maybe you can tell us them some time...

Would be great to meet up, Sandi, either here or there. I'm brushing up on my geography of the States as I'm meeting so many of you guys over here. Hugs and warm greetings, Hadriana xx xx

the fly in the web said...

Good guys, bad guys...it strikes me that in real life very few of them want to be there...they get dragged along by their bosses.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Like it, Fly, like it. Pure Raymond Chandler that line. Shot from the hip! ;)

Maggie May said...

The nearest I ever got to Nottingham was when I wrote, as a child, letters to my Auntie, who lived there! She lived in the district of Sherwood.

We were glued to Robin hood films when my brother & I were children and then the TV series came. Roger Moore played Robin on one of the TV series and my mum used to say,"He'd never have kept his shirt that clean!" It was bright white! Now I always look out for things like that!

Maggie X

Nuts in May

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Maggie,

I used to live in Nottingham (only for a little while) because my ex-boyfriend was there through work.

The pub where I worked was brilliant fun. Those were the days when pubs really were pubs...packed full and busy. I used to work 60 hour weeks (kept me out of mischief).

I liked Nottingham and we did go into Sherwoord Forest on days off. As regards "Robin Hood" I always liked the Disney version. Talking of Disney my all time favourite is "The Jungle Book". Apparently a lot of the Disney "Robin Hood" was based on "The Jungle Book". I think I still have both LPs around somewhere...I used to drive my parents mad by playing them both non-stop! :)

Fiona said...

I'm so glad you mentioned about 'walking on the wall' it drives me nuts when I see people doing that. I'll let the actors off but the rest of the world beware....if I spot you disrespecting our history and heritage....
As for Alan Rickman...(faints!)

Nota Bene said...

I too have been known to send people south when they wanted to go east...

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Fiona,

There's a concerted effort by Hadrian's Wall Heritage to keep people from walking on the Wall. A fellow guide and Twitterer, OU Lass, uses the symbol for that. HWH Ltd. are putting that symbol (which is also on my blog further down on Right Hand sidebar) under "Help Protect Hadrian's Wall". Please feel free to save the image and promote it...if you feel like doing so. Glad you feel the same way. :)

Hi NB - Yes - I've been known to get my directions utterly and completely wrong. I've got a dreadful habit of just jumping in my car without checking the directions properly first. Luckily my sense of direction ain't that bad so I end up where I am going eventually!! ;)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I got distracted, Fiona, what I meant to say is.....HWH Ltd. are trying to put that symbol on all major points along the Wall to try to deter people from walking/standing on it. They are not putting it on my blog but they have allowed me to do that (put it on my blog)! Hope this all makes sense!!!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Fiona: Apologies...Blogger is acting up. Countrymatters = Hadriana = Catherine
Aagghhh!

Pavementaled said...

How old is that Sycamore tree? They generally live about 200-250 years, but some have been known to goo over 500. Hadrian's wall was built over 1880 years ago, so whomever planted it, or left it after they cut down the grove really had a sense of aesthetics. I would like to know the age difference between the man made structure and Mother Nature.