As we count down to reopening, we’ve commissioned an online survey asking the public what they think a modern-day robin hood would be like. 

  • 37% of people believe that the modern-day Robin Hood would be an activist by profession.
  • 78% of people surveyed think homelessness would be the number one cause that Robin would fight for.
  • The strong depiction of Robin in folklore and popular culture means that 54% of people still think that he would identify as a male.

Nottingham Castle has commissioned a national survey asking over 2,000 people what Robin or ‘Robyn Hood’ would be like if they were alive today.

The survey, which ran amidst the global pandemic and the heavily politicised protests on race and gender inequality, saw many respondents agree that Robin would be a young, male activist, with a very relevant and timely place in today’s world.

With 99% of people stating that they were familiar with the traditional depiction of Robin Hood, it’s clear that his legacy remains strong. The results showed that an overwhelming majority of people (78%) believe that tackling homelessness and poverty would be the number one concern for the heroic outlaw, with standing up for women’s rights and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement holding an equal second position.

Feedback also revealed that people believe a modern-day counterpart would reflect the folklore with a career as an activist the most popular choice (37%), with criminal (17%) and a charity worker (16%) tying in second place.

Woodcut of Robin Hood, from a 17th-century broadside

Dr Richard Gaunt, Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Nottingham, said: “Robin Hood is part of the DNA of Nottinghamshire’s history and has been re-fashioned by each generation to mirror its concerns and priorities. This fascinating evidence demonstrates the continuing power exercised by his legend as well as the causes which animate and empower Nottinghamshire people today.”

Our CEO, Sara Blair-Manning, said: “We are fascinated by the results from the survey, and how this matches the public’s interest in people such as Marcus Rashford and the important work that he and other well-known people are currently undertaking. It is remarkable to see what causes the nation believes our legendary Nottingham hero would support and how he would look and act today.

As one of the world’s best loved folk heroes, the activist role shows that people believe that Robin Hood would still uphold the democratic and social justice causes, standing up for the less fortunate and battling inequality. It proves that in 2021, Robin would still be set on helping the disadvantaged, however this time he or she wouldn’t rob from the rich, but campaign for various homelessness charities to help raise awareness and help make a difference to people living on the streets.

It is also really interesting to see that the people surveyed thought Robin Hood could potentially be a charity worker, on the other end of the scale, a criminal. It is apparent that there is a clear divide between people’s beliefs about Robin’s character and actions. Peoples’ thoughts on the modern-day Robin Hood appear to be at the opposite ends of a good/bad scale.”

Just over half of the people surveyed (54%) thought that Robin Hood would be male, with the remaining 46% people stating they either did not know or believed that Robin or Robyn Hood would hold another gender identity, including female, transgender, non-binary/genderqueer, gender fluid or agender/gender non-conforming.

More than a third of people (39%) also thought that Robin Hood in 2021 would belong to the white ethnic group, closely followed by 33% saying they did not know and 24% thought that Robin would be from mixed/multiple ethnic groups.

Following the survey results, an illustration of today’s Robin Hood reflects the public’s belief that he would be a young man with political badges, using social media for his activism. The image, which you can see above, was created by Nottingham-based artist and Nottingham Trent University student Alessandra Centorbi.