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The Best of British

The Best of British

The Myths and Legends we've explored so far are those of the Ancient Civilizations of Greece and Rome and there truly are some epic and fantastic tales. However civlization in Britain can be traced back to hundreds of years before tribes even settled in Rome so let's take a look at some of the epic heroes and villains of the UK, this is the Best of British.


Robin Hood: 

An absolute classic, the archer who stole from the rich to feed the poor and lived in Sherwood Forest with his band of merry men, madly in love with the fair maid Marian. It's a great tale except for the fact that of course historians tell us that such a figure probably never existed and there are no historical records to confirm this common description of his life! The tale of Robin Hood is accepted to be a legend, an English folklore, although legends are usually at least part based on reality, so where does the tale originate from? Some historians argue that there may have been a figure named Robin Hood that fits some of the characteristics of the tales but with a name as common in medieval Britain as Robin or Robyn and a surname Hood (which was applied to anyone who fashioned hats or hoods of which there were many) it is difficult to know for certain. One theory is that Robin Hood was Robin of Loxley who was outlawed for killing his stepfather and met the figure 'Little John' who was earl of Huntingdon. There are sources to show that a man named Robin Loxley ( and people would often take the surname of their home town) was on trial as an outlaw at one point during this period but this could be any man named Robin living in Loxley of which there were many. Another theory is that Robin himself was earl of Huntingdon and supposedly his epitaph reads that he was highly skilled with a bow and arrow and king of outlaws but again no one can be sure. Whatever the truth of Robin Hood, the merry men and maid marian were likely created for the legend to improve its entertainment value and indeed the merry men bear some resemblance to Jesus' disciples and Maid Marian to the Virgin Mary so as England was strongly Christian during the middle ages it is likely that someone called Robin Hood may have existed and was a skilled archer and outlaw but the rest is created for the sake of good storytelling.


The Loch Ness Monster:

After the recent vote Scotland has decided to remain a part of Britain and the Loch Ness Monster is as Scottish as bagpipes, haggis and rain, but what is the truth exactly behind Nessie? Ultimately we cannot prove or disprove Nessie's existence, there is some evidence in photographs and from sonar readings but many are admitted to be fake or are unclear and largely disputable. The famous photo known as 'The Surgeon's photo' shows what appears to be the head and neck of a dinosaur like sea monster but it was later admitted to be a hoax and was actually a toy submarine with a sculpture on top to look like the head and neck of a monster. The most common belief is that Nessie is an aquatic dinosaur that has survived to modern day, specifically a Plesiosaur. The theory is that there is an underwater passage in Loch Ness that allows the creature to pass through from the Sea as of course something of such a size could not survive in a loch. The sightings and claims for Nessie have reduced largely in recent years and common theory is that if such a creature did exist it is now dead and must have died out at sea rather than in the loch or its corpse would be seen. In truth we do not know whether Nessie is alive or dead, real or fake, but it certainly makes for an interesting legend! 



Stonehenge is no legend, it very clearly exists and you can see it with your own eyes, the legend surrounds what it is, why it's there, and how it was built. A prehistoric monument, Stonehenge is a ring of very large standing stones and it is dated to have been built anywhere between around 3000-2000 BC; that's 4000-5000 years ago! The tribes living in Britain at that time were very primitive and left no written records so there are many myths surrounding the purpose of this great stone circle and also just how they were constructed as they are far too heavy to be lifted by brute strength and preventing them from toppling over is a further mystery. This has lead some sceptics to suggest supernatural intervention and even that Aliens were involved but more realistically it is suggested to have been an elaborate burial ground or even a place of worship. Many graves have been found surrounding Stonehenge and several of the skeletons were of teenagers suggesting that perhaps they died from a tumour or disease and some skeletons were found to be deformed somewhat so another concept is that it was a place of pilgrimage and healing not unlike Lourdes in France today. We cannot know for certain and the purpose of this great place of British heritage remains shrouded in myth; perhaps that is best because it is exciting to speculate!



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