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Alan-a-Dale (also spelled Allen-a-Dale, Allan-a-Dale, Allin-a-Dale, etc.) is a figure in the Robin Hood legend. According to the stories, he was a wandering minstrel who became a member of Robin's band of outlaws, the "Merry Men."

He is a relatively late addition to the legend; he first appeared in a seventeenth-century broadside ballad, Child Ballad 138, "Robin Hood and Allen a Dale", and unlike many of the characters thus associated, managed to adhere to the legend. In this tale, Robin rescues Alan's sweetheart from an unwanted marriage to an old knight. They stop the bishop from proceeding with the ceremony, and Robin Hood, dressed in the bishop's robes, marries Alan to his bride. In other versions it is Little John or Friar Tuck that performs the ceremony. [1]

Another variant appears in which the hero is not Alan but Will Scarlet, but Alan has taken over the role entirely.[1]

Howard Pyle uses this tale in his book The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, but changes several details. He gives Alan's sweetheart the name Ellen, and introduces Friar Tuck into the story; Tuck is sought out specifically as the only priest who will perform the wedding in defiance of the bishop, and therefore, this tale is combined with that of Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar.[2]

He plays a prominent role in some later plays, children's novels, films, and television shows.

Modern incarnations

  • Alan-a-Dale is the musical narrator of Disney's 1973 animated Robin Hood film. He is depicted as a lute-playing rooster voiced by country singer Roger Miller and played the role of both narrator and minor ally to Robin Hood and Little John.
  • In the 2002 video game Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood, Allan appears briefly to disguise himself as Prince John's man Guillame de Longchamps to deliver the ransom to save King Richard.
  • He is played by Joe Armstrong in the 2006 BBC production of Robin Hood; Here he is portrayed as an expert pickpocket and a compulsive liar with a sarcastic nature and no musical ability. After being captured by Gisborne he sells him information. After Robin finds out that he has turned traitor, Allan goes to work for Gisborne. He tries to help keep Gisborne away from Marian and has admitted (at the same time as Will Scarlet) that he "likes" Djaq, the Saracen girl in the gang. In the final episode, Allan returns to the band of outlaws and tries to help them defeat the Sheriff of Nottingham. He is killed in the series finale of Series 3, by three arrows although he recognises Sherrif Vaisay before he dies. His body is left outside the castle, and in the next episode burnt.


  1. ^ a b Holt, J. C. Robin Hood p 165 (1982) Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27541-6
  2. ^ Michael Patrick Hearn, "Afterword", Howard Pyle The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, p 384 ISBN 0-451-52007-6

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