Robin's secret weapon

He is the all-English hero who robbed the rich to give to the poor.

However, an American author has upset fans of the legendary outlaw by claiming he was actually Welsh.

Stephen Lawhead has based his new novel, Hood, on historical evidence of Robin's weapon - the long bow. He re-names Robin Bran ap Brychan and claims the hero's first stomping ground was the Welsh Marches, not Nottingham's Sherwood Forest.

Next week children at two Welsh schools will quiz Mr Lawhead about his legend-busting theory. He explains: "A US publisher sent me a wooden coffin containing a hand-crafted reproduction 10th-century longbow with three arrows - that's when I decided to write the book."

The longbow is key to his theory that RobinBran originated in Wales where the lethal weapon was invented.

His theory has already won over Emrys Wynne, head of Welsh at Llangollen's Ysgol Dinas Bran, where Mr Lawhead will talk to two groups: first language Welsh and first language English children. "It's a very exciting notion to discover Robin was Welsh," Mr Wynne said.

At Lewis School Pengam, at Gilfach near Bargoed, assistant head Andrew Jones said: "It's an entertaining idea, but it's a bit of a Kumars thing - where everyone is Indian when they obviously aren't."

A spokesperson for the worldwide Robin Hood society, poured scorn on his theory. "This is like saying Owain Glyndwr is not Welsh - it's quite insulting."

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