The Robin Hood’s Village Volunteer Dig is a long running community archaeology project investigating the development of the village of Edwinstowe.

It forms part of the larger Sherwood Forest Villages Project researching the settlement pattern and development in Sherwood Forest.

Robin Hood Village Archaeology Sherwood Forest launch event

Picture: Robin Hood, Andy Gaunt and Sean Crossley of Mercian Archaeological Services CIC, Patrick Candler Chief Executive of the Sherwood Forest Trust, and Member of Parliament Mark Spencer MP, with members of the community and volunteers at the opening of the dig on July 14th 2014..


The dig is being run in conjunction with the Edwinstowe Historical Society and is investigating the development of the village through test- pitting.

The project is designed to tie in with key regional research objectives and is of vital importance to understanding the landscape of Sherwood Forest over time.

This research forms part of Mercian's long term research in Sherwood Forest.

Historic Mapping for Edwinstowe shows the village developed in a number of key areas.The area to the north around the church, the area to the South on the River Maun, and the central portion of the village around the High Street.

The central portion consists of housing plots along the frontage of main street with long narrow linear ‘crofts’(effectively medieval garden plots) extending backwards from the properties to either side. These crofts are accessed on both sides by back lanes running parallel to main street. The back lanes are in turn accessed by an East Lane to the East, and a West Lane to the West.

This portion of the village forms a characteristically Medieval village layout.

The recent East Midlands research Agenda describes Sherwood Forest as having a dispersed settlement pattern, this is contradictory to recent historical mapping of Sherwood Forest by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC which suggests that all settlements are nucleated and adjacent to rivers.The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project seeks to investigate the settlement pattern of Sherwood Forest and its landscape over time as part of its long term research.

The working theory for the village prior to work being carried out was that the area around the church was the earliest focus of occupation, presumably developing in Saxon times.

The area to the mills presumably developed in the 12th century after the Domesday Book of 1086, which does not list a mill in Edwinstowe at that time.

The central portion of the village along the high street between East and West Lanes and their associated back lanes was presumed to have developed later, perhaps during population expansion in the 13th century.

Interim Report:

Robin Hood's Village Dig 2014, Test Pitting Project, Interim Report.

Andy Gaunt

Project Background

The village of Edwinstowe in Nottinghamshire is known as Robin Hood’s Village

Legends has it that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were married at St Mary’s Church in the village, and the name Edwinstowe is believed to mean the ‘Holy place of Edwin’ after King Edwin of Northumbria who died at the Battle of Hatfield in 633.

The village is also home to the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve and the world famous veteran Oak tree the Major Oak. At around 1,000 years old the Major Oak is the greatest of all the veteran oaks of Sherwood Forest . It is the legendary hiding place of Robin Hood, and is the most famous tree in all of England.

Robin Hood's Village Dig Archaeology Young Archaeology Club Newark and Sherwood Sherwood Forest Trust Experience Nottinghamshire Experience Nottinghamshire The Cake Hole tea Rooms, Edwinstowe Robin Hood Excavation Community Archaeology Album Edwinstowe Sherwood Forest

Robin Hood’s Village Volunteer Dig 2014 picture gallery:

Click on the Picture above to view

Press and Media Coverage

The project has had a fantastic amount of support from the press via the Internet, the printed media, the radio and even on the television!

Media coverage included:

BBC Radio Nottingham, The Nottingham Post, The SUN Newspaper, the Mansfield Chad, Radio Mansfield, Notts TV, BBC East Midlands Today…

Andy Gaunt Notts TV Robin Hood Archaeology Mercian Archaeological Services

Notts TV studio interview:

Masfield Chad Robin Hood Archaeology

Mansfield CHAD Article:

BAJR Archaeology Robin Hood

What People have said about the project:

“Comm Arch… as it should be!” - David Connolly, Director of BAJR, British Archaeology Jobs and Resources

“Genius, in organising and funding” - Kathy Burnum via Facebook.

"I'd just like to say thank you so much to Andy, David and Sean for the last three days of getting dirty in test pits. I have made new friends, had loads of fun and have definitely learnt a lot from this experience. Could not have asked for a better first dig! I'm sure you'll be glad to know this has been the highlight of my trip and that I am so glad I came along." - Dana Abbott, Queensland, Australia.

“Wow this is really something with all the support. Well done everyone and good luck” - Anne Shelton via Facebook.

“captivating to be part of… Our thanks to Edwinstowe local Roy and Shaun from Mercian who were in charge, to the other businesses in the courtyard (The Cake Hole team room, DT Collectable Toys and The Church Office) for their enthusiasm and involvement, and to Newark & Sherwood Council for their support in allowing us to dig here… the hope is to do more pits over the coming months (and years!!), to get as clear a story of the development of the village over centuries. There'll be a report and hopefully an open day to let everyone know of their findings. We are really excited about that too” - The Sherwood Forest Trust.

“A great example of community archaeology, spot on” - Paddy Lambert via Facebook.

“Thank you for letting Edwinstowe Beavers take part in the big dig.  Alex loved it :-)” - Julie Rushby, Sherwood Forest Trust via Twitter.

Project Partners and Thanks

A project of this scale would be impossible to run without the help of many people in the local community and further afield.

Mercian Archaeological Services CIC qwould like to thank Edwinstowe Historical Society, particularly Margaret Woodhead, and Colin and Di Roker for their wonderful contribution tot he project.

Also Robert Woodhead Ltd  for kindly welcoming us to their site and letting us use their facilities at Edwinstowe House,

Also we would like to say a big thank you to Patrick Candler and Ian Major of the Sherwood Forest Trust for letting us borrow parts of their offices, and arranged for us to dig a test pit at the Church Farm Business Park with Newark and Sherwood District Council .

Also our grateful thanks go to Ade Andrews aka Robin Hood, Reach Learning Disabilities, Sue Rodgers and the  Newark and District Young Archaeology Club, Edwinstowe Beavers, and The Cake Hole Tea Rooms.

Young Archaeology Club Newark and Sherwood Sherwood Forest Trust Robert Woodhead Edwinstowe Historical Society Reach Learning Disabilities Experience Nottinghamshire Robin Hood The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project page Andy Gaunt Notts TV Robin Hood Archaeology Mercian Archaeological Services

Notts TV on location filming:

Nottingham Post Robin Hood Arhaeology Robert Woodhead Edwinstowe Historical Society Reach Learning Disabilities Robin Hood

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The Robin Hood’ Village Dig

Phases 1 and 2 ran in July and October 2014 respectively.

The project so far has been a fantastic success, recognised as Nottinghamshire biggest ever volunteer excavation with 150 different people digging over the course of 17 days, producing nearly 2,000 hours of FREE Community Archaeology so far!

Community Archaeology

The dig engaged a large number of people in the village of Edwinstowe with 22 test pits dug in gardens around the village. A significant number of properties have now signed up for stage 3 which is now being organised for the autumn of 2015 by popular demand.

Alongside the local community people volunteered from all over the region and around the United Kingdom with people coming from around England and Northern Ireland.

The project was also joined by a volunteer all the way from Queensland Australia, and has had a significant international following online via the Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project Facebook page.

We were also joined by the Newark and District branch of the Young Archaeology Club, members of the Edwinstowe Beavers Group, and members from the Southwell and from the Newark Reach Learning Disabilities Groups.

We were also fortunate to have the Member of Parliament for Newark and Sherwood, Mark Spencer MP, and Robin Hood (aka Ezekial Bone ) join us to open the dig on the 14th of July.

All this has been possible due to a new way of funding Community Archaeology in Nottinghamshire- with no expense to the tax payer! all money raised goes to support the project so that people can continue to benefit from FREE access to Community Archaeology in the Heart of Sherwood Forest! This forms part of Mercian's attempt to create a sustainable future for Community Archaeology in Nottinghamshire and Sherwood Forest.

Community support for Community Projects... The Future of Sherwood's Past!

Award Winners 2016

for "Engaging people in the heritage, history & archaeology of Sherwood Forest".

Young Archaeology Club Sherwood Forest Trust Magna Carta Sherwood Forest

Some funders and partners:

World-wide Robin Hood Society

Robin Hood Society Feather in Your Cap Award 2016 Heritage Lottery Fund Archaeology Thynghowe Vikings Sherwood Forest Discover King John's Palace free excavation Robin Hood Town Tours


Stage 1 focused on the area around the church, the area of the high street and also concentrated on areas surrounding these to help understand the limits of occupation and to understand the open field systems and land use around the village core.

The area in the south around the mills will be considered during phase 2

Preliminary results

Preliminary results look great so far, with 13-14th century pottery being found in the central portion of the village, supporting our working theories.

The earliest pottery so far found comes from the area of the church- but this is awaiting further specialist diagnosis before we make our announcements!

We will let you know as soon as we have news!

The Nottingham Post: Article:

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The Future of Sherwood’s Past


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