A US historian has upset the good burghers of Nottingham by claiming Robin Hood was actually Welsh, the Evening Standard reports.
Stephen Lawhead, 59, reckons our dashing hero was really called Bran ap Brychan and led his merry men in the Marsh, "a primeval forest in Wales in the eleventh century". Bran is described as "a spoiled and selfish prince who becomes the rightful heir to the kingdom of Elfael after his father is killed by the Normans".
Sadly, said kingdom is quickly occupied by evil Norman prince Count Falkes de Braose, forcing Bran to leg it into the woods. Naturally, and since we suspect Lawhead is moonlighting as Mel Gibson's screenplay writer, Bran (Brad Pitt) soon hooks up with Angharad (Paris Hilton), a "mysterious healer and singing storyteller", whose faith in the renegade's "potential as a heroic king" gives him the bright idea to steal from the rich - including Count Falkes de Braose (Alan Rickman) - "in order to raise the money needed to buy back his kingdom and free his people, forced into slavery by their new ruler".
Lawhead said: "Several small but telling clues locate the legend of Robin Hood in Wales. Every single Welshman was ready for battle at a moment's notice. A Welsh location is also suggested by its nature and landscape.
"While the forests of England had long since become well managed business property at the time, Wales still had enormous stretches of virgin wood. It would have been exceedingly difficult for Robin to hide in England's ever dwindling Sherwood. But he could have lived for years in the forests of the March and never been seen nor heard."
After outlining his Braveheart-standard historical evidence, Lawhead admitted: "I realise, though, that we could have some trouble with Nottingham. They are pretty heavily invested in the Nottingham Robin Hood version and with good reason."
Nottingham City Council's Stephen Richeux duly responded: "We laugh at this suggestion. We imagine this author is trying to make a name for himself with the outrageous suggestion that Wales is the home of our beloved Robin Hood. He is known to have spent a lot of time in Sherwood Forest, so I don't know where Wales gets a look in."
Richeux further suggested that Lawhead was in the pay of the Welsh Tourist Board, presumably desperate for Mel Gibson's Glendwr (working title) to inject some cash into the local economy by hiring every unemployed man in Wales to bare his buttocks at the Normans. ®