Outlaws of Inglewood

A Cumbrian Legend

The Story of Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough and William of Cloudesley


I first discovered the legend of Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough and William of Cloudesley whilst researching the legend of Robin Hood. I felt it deserved to be better known.

The legend has been known to story tellers since at least the early years of the fifteenth century and the first, full, printed account dates from around 1565.

Its setting is Inglewood, the ancient and vanished forest between Carlisle and Penrith as well as Carlisle city itself and London. It is an exciting story of outlawry, betrayal, murder, escape from a burning house, a running battle through the streets of Carlisle and a demonstration of skilful archery in the manner of William Tell in front of the king and queen after which ....

Outlaws of Inglewood takes the verses of the original, 16th century ballad and translates and adapts them to novel form for modern readers and, in a postscript, links the ballad with real history. If there is some invention in the prologue, this is intended simply to make it more suitable for twenty-first century readers by placing the original action in a context.

The postscript also discusses the origin and development of the legend. As with other legends, notably the chronicles of Robin Hood, its popularity generated later accounts of the lives of Adam Bell and his friends that owe little to the original legend. In at least one case, the Robin Hood story is directly linked with the outlaws of Inglewood and a television series had Robin joining forces with the Sheriff of Nottingham to rescue the Sheriff's nephew who had been captured by Adam Bell.

The postscript questions whether there ever were historical characters called Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough and William of Cloudesley and, using the hints in the legend, makes an attempt to place them in a true historical time frame.

For those wanting to know how far Outlaws of Inglewood departs from the original, there is a complete transcript of the original to study.

The book is fully illustrated by Paola Fontana in a naïve medieval style that is intended to complement the story. Those who wish to do so are invited to visit her personal website: http://artist-portfolio.net/paolafontana. The cover illustration is from a 17th century edition of the story.

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Book Cover

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Outlaws of Inglewood was published by Exposure Publishing, Liskeard in 2007
ISBN 978-1846855412

With 24 Illustrations by Paola Fontana