Robin Who? British folklore could be in danger of dying out within a generation
British folklore could be in danger of dying out within a generation
Tales that form the backbone of British culture and heritage might never be heard again, as research reveals that nearly a quarter of the nation (24%) can’t name even one story from folklore.
The study into the future of traditional British folklore was commissioned by Center Parcs as it celebrates 30 years at Sherwood Forest – famous home of the legendary hero Robin Hood. The findings revealed that, when presented with a list of folklore stories, 80% of people are familiar with Robin Hood – probably thanks to the many films based on him. However, similar tales are set to be forgotten within a generation.
The future doesn’t seem any brighter for folklore in generations to come, as almost two thirds (64%) of people say they don’t intend to pass on the stories to their own children. One in five of us can’t remember the tales to retell them, which may contribute towards the problem.
This is despite two thirds of people saying they believe traditional stories, myths and legends help develop children’s imaginations, and almost half (45%) thinking they help teach our children valuable lessons.
Furthermore, 7 in 10 strongly believe folklore still plays a part in our society, with over half (55%) of British people saying the stories inspire the best literature, television and films – such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.
Colin Whaley, Marketing Director at Center Parcs, said: “Storytelling is a great way to bring families together, sharing tales with one another and bonding as they re-live family favourites. In the year that we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our arrival in Sherwood Forest – the home of folklore ‘celebrity’ Robin Hood – we’re particularly sad to hear that the future of folklore is in jeopardy. We want to help people re-discover tales they might have forgotten, not only keeping the legendary history of our nation alive, but also helping to encourage special family time sharing the almost forgotten art of verbal storytelling.”
In response to the findings, Center Parcs has teamed up with The Folklore Society to create a Folklore Map of Britain. Showcasing some of the most accessible and famous legends from across the nation, the map aims to remind the public of tales they may have forgotten and encourage families to tell these once famous stories to one another again.
Jeremy Harte, British local lore expert and committee member of The Folklore Society, said: “Countries aren’t just made up of rocks and rivers. They’re also made up of the stories we tell each other about the places we know. There are stories about heroes and heroines like Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest and Lady Godiva in Coventry, tales of mermaids around the coasts, giant warriors on the mountains and hidden treasure in the earth. These tales give a special character to our homes, and poetry to our landscape. However, we've seen from this research that our rich folkloric tradition may be slipping through our fingers, which is deeply saddening and an issue we are passionate about tackling alongside Center Parcs. While there is a wealth of information about folklore on various tourist, council and heritage organistion sites, there clearly may be a decline in stories being passed from generation to generation in the traditional way. By curating this map, we hope to remind people of the fabled history in their local areas, and hope to see these stories re-told for generations to come."
The Folklore Society, which devised the map for Center Parcs, said: "This map shows only a fraction of the folklore embedded in the British landscape, but it gives some sense of the riches to be explored. It is designed to give a broad geographical sweep and a good variety of different kinds of local legends, creatures, events and wonders. The stories chosen to be summarized were selected on the basis of several criteria: connection to famous story cycles, including those of King Arthur and Robin Hood; a broad range of different supernatural creatures; and attachment to distinctive buildings or landscape features."