University of Nottingham - logo
Periodic Table of Nottingham


Nottingham element: Sheriff of Nottingham

According to the legend, the Sheriff of Nottingham was the arch enemy of Robin Hood. Portrayed on screen by Alan Rickman, Keith Allen and Matthew Macfadyen, to name but a few, the Sheriff veers between serious and comedy roles.

He is generally depicted as an unjust tyrant, who mistreats the local people of Nottinghamshire, subjecting them to unaffordable taxes. Robin Hood fights against him, stealing from the rich, and the Sheriff, in order to give to the poor.

It is not conclusively known who this character is based on, but it would have been one of the people to have occupied the post of High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire. In many versions of the legend, the Sheriff is placed in power during the absence of King Richard I during the Third Crusade.

There is still a Sheriff of Nottingham today. But in real life Councillor Catharine Arnold’s responsibilities are less sinister than her legendary counterpart.


Scientific element: Silicon

Silicon is the second most abundant element by weight on Earth, second only to oxygen. It has both properties of metals and non-metals.

The name derives from the Latin words silex or silicis, which mean ‘flint.’

Silicon is need for plant and animal life. Humans need silicon for healthy skin, hair, nails and bones, and to synthesize the proteins collagen and elastin.

Watch and learn

Explore more elements