Top critical review
Too many mistakes
on 11 April 2017
The opening sentences in JRR Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' are:
“This is a story of long ago. At that time the languages and letters were quite different from ours of today.”
Baldwin has completely ignored that advice. In his discussion on the 'fayre castell' described in the Gest, he has assumed that the word 'rode' refers to a road whereas the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary(SOED), claims the word 'road' referring to a route or thoroughfare did not enter the English Language until the end of the sixteenth century. 'Rode' had a completely different meaning when the Gest was written.
In his attempts to drag Roger Godberd into the story, Baldwin has identified the 'fayre castell' as described in the Gest is either Fenwick or Wellow, and assumes the claim that the castle lies a little way into the wood, refers to Sherwood Forest. He goes on to point out neither of these castles actually lie within Sherwood. A point which he then completely ignores. He also seems to have ignored the difference between woods and forests as described in the Gest. The description of the castle contained in the Gest is so accurate and detailed that it is unique in the country, but it is certainly none of those identified by Baldwin, nor even by Holt nor Bellamy for that matter.
If Baldwin had correctly identified the castle and referred to the SOED ,he would possibly have realised the location referred to as Verysdale was not Wyresdale, but was in fact Wensleydale, and and he would also have realised why Sir Richard was unable to repay his debt and why he was so despondent.
The phrase “under the Greenwood” occurs in the Gest but a study of the geology of the Sherwood Forest area indicates that the soil is too acid and dry to support many large trees such as oaks, and as a result the natural vegetation consists mainly of heathland. That is generally clumps of heather interspersed with gorse bushes and silver birch trees and with only the occasional bigger tree. The word greenwood therefore can only apply to Barnsdale. It is quite difficult to get under a clump of heather.
The Gest identifies the poor knight encountered by Robin on a 'dern strete' as Sir Richard at the Lee. Baldwin follows Holt's lead in assuming that lee refers to the name of a village whereas in at least nine other ballads the phrase 'at the lee' or 'over the lee' clearly means land which has been left uncultivated for two or more years.
The above comments and many other similar ones, cast serious doubts on the reliability of the book as a whole.