The Encyclopaedia Britannica says the early medieval ballads such as the Geste, Robin Hood and the Monk, Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne, Robin Hood and the Potter; indicate that the action took place not in Nottinghamshire but chiefly in South Yorkshire."
True to form the evidence on the ground bears out the Encyclopaedia Britannica for if we look out over Hathersage (see picture) from the safety of Robin Hoods cave high on Stanage Rocks we see "Hood Valley" with "Hood Brook" meandering through and in the distance is Hathersage Church where we find the grave of Little John. On the moors above are Robin Hood’s Moss, Robin Hood’s table is at Barbrook stream and at the head of Agden Clough is Robin Hood’s chair complete with arm rests and a stone in front that served as a table. Tradition has it that Little John chose the site of his grave himself with an arrow shot from "Robin Hood's Stoop." Robin Hood’s cross marked the boundary of three nearby villages and Offerton was leased to Ralph Eyre in 1473 by the Abbot and Convent of St. Mary’s, Rufford, in Sherwood Forest, the Cross being mentioned in a document of that date and previously in AD1319 (Holt). The abbey was founded around AD1147 and the boundary stone must be one of the earliest place name associated with Robin Hood. From Hathersage the road known as "Long Causeway" goes to Robin Hood's Well at Barnsdale on the "Great North Road," linking all the places that are associated with Robin Hood to his home town.
Other places associated with Robin Hood are:
Wentbridge, Barnsdale, Blyth, Doncaster, Kirklees, The Greenwood, York, South Owram near Halifax, Huddersfield, Wortley (The Wharncliffe Park near Loxley also in Ivanho), Barnsley, Rotherham, Wakefield, Bawtry, and the Sayles. Richard at the Lee is uncertain but see the comments on the 'Greenwood' link and also at the bottom of the page on this Rochester site. All these places are in Yorkshire and there is nothing in the early manuscripts that mentions Sherwood, the only mention of anything that far south is the Sheriff of Nottingham who had a castle in Derbyshire just over the border from Loxley.
The Geste of Robin Hood speaks of Blyth Castle which is now called Tickhill Castle. It is on Watling Street which is the main route between York, Barnsdale, Sherwood, and Huntingdon. The castle is only nineteen miles from Loxley and a short distance north is the notorious Barnsdale. Away from this main road were the forest trails that provided excellent access between Nottingham, Sherwood, Loxley, and Barnsdale. An early sheriff of Nottingham, William Peveril, built Nottingham Castle, Peveril Castle at Castleton in the Royal Forest of the Peak and Haddon Hall which was a days march halfway between the two castles and may have been used as an overnight stop. He also built Bolsover Castle midway between Sheffield and Nottingham.
The Sheriff of Nottingham’s area of jurisdiction included Hathersage in Derbyshire which is a stones throw from Loxley in Yorkshire. Should the Sheriff of Nottingham raise a "hue and cry" for Robin Hood's capture the outlaw only had to cross the border into Yorkshire's Loxley to be safe and if the Sheriff of York raised the "hue and cry" he only had to slip over the border into Hathersage to be safe from the Sheriff of Yorkshire. The tough independent smiths in Loxley made excellent arrowheads as did the blacksmiths in Sheffield, Handsworth and Rotherham where the Jackson’s replenished bow-staves. The two villages were on the edge of the ancient Royal Forest of the Peak and contemporary records show people from the surrounding villages poaching the king's deer in the Royal Forest that was the domain of the Sheriff of Nottingham. He is portrayed as the villain in the rhymes and ballads of Robin Hood who traditionally is said to have been Robin of Loxley.
The terrain was ruggedly dangerous for any but skilled foresters and those who knew the lie of the land and even 400 years after Robin Hood, Ceilia Fiennes riding through Derbyshire in 1697 wrote: "...you are forced to have Guides as in all parts of Derbyshire. It's very difficult to find the ways here for you see only the tops of hills. Not only was navigation difficult for the traveller but there were the dangers of the wild boar, buffalo, wolves, and bears in this lawless region that was rich in hiding places for those who sought to survive in any way possible. There were the master-less men who were the unemployed plus the unemployable, along with discharged soldiers, tramps, beggars, Robin Hood bands and the marauding Scots engaged in guerrilla warfare. All this coupled with the large number of barons and members of the nobility who had their mansions and stately homes in this "King’s County" along with the forest officials who imposed harsh penalties on those caught taking the game. A toll was charged for passage through the forest and all things considered travellers chose the route along Watling Street even though it meant going through the notorious Barnsdale that was known for its highway robbers. Packhorse men and others carrying goods or valuables waited till there were sufficient numbers to form a convoy and sometimes they were accompanied by an armed escort from Blyth. We know Robin Hood himself is spoken of as being in Barnsdale which was on the road to York and many a bishop, abbot or churchman passed that way.
Not far from Loxley and Hathersage was Tideswell that was an important hunting centre in the Royal Forest. Venison and boar destined for the King's table were stored there. Tideswell was known as the 'Kings Larder.'
This was the home of Robert and Nicholas Meveril who also held possessions in Huntingdon as did Robert-de-Loxley and William-de-Lovetot who became the Lord of the Manor of Sheffield and whose brother was the Sheriff of Nottingham. Their lands in Huntingdon were adjoining and they must have known each other. The Meverils who associated with outlaws and appeared in court with Robert-de-Lockesly both in Huntingdon and Nottingham. They were the tenants of the Earl of Chester who held the Royal Forest of the Peak while the Sheriff of Nottingham was active in the same area. David, King of Scots was the Earl of Huntingdon and he was the tenant-in-chief of Loxley and Hallamshire perhaps explaining the Huntingdon connection as people fought over the earldom. One example of foul play was the poisoning of John-le-Scot the last Earl of Huntingdon by his wife Helen Lllewellyn who was King John’s granddaughter by his concubine Agatha Ferrers.
Living at Heaton was Thomas-de-Birkin whose daughter married Adam-de-Everingham from Bradfield (Loxley) sometime between 1180–1210AD. Thomas's sister Isabel married Robert-de-Everingham who was the Bailiff and Keeper of Sherwood Forest and this great woodland which was almost unbroken extended from Nottingham to Derbyshire and into Yorkshire where it nearly joined with the famous forest of Barnsdale. (The Sherwood we know today is the "Royal Forest" but the surrounding forest was larger.)