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Why Zelda’s Hyrule Is Secretly Nottingham: A Link To Our Town

7 October 20 words: Teo Eve
photos: Ryan Quintal

Teo Eve docks a deerstalker hat, picks up his magnifying glass and investigates the links between Robin Hood, Peter Pan and The Legend of Zelda...

Recently, Twitter user @Beeestonia (Matt Turpin, Editor of The Beestonian magazine) shared a thread revealing the little-known linksbetween famous JM Barrie character Peter Pan and Nottingham. The thread hypothesised that the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up was based partially based on Henry Kirke White, a Nottingham-based Romantic poet who lived a tragically short life.

As compelling as the thread is, one needn’t investigate too foresenicaly to see the links between the beloved Peter Pan and an equally iconic Nottingham legend, Robin Hood.

Barrie lived in Nottingham for a year (where he wrote for the Nottingham Journal), and would doubtlessly have come across a few Robin Hood fanatics and depictions of the folklore hero along the way. Sure, Pan’s timeless youth may have been inspired more by the story of White than Hood, but Peter’s iconic green costume bears more than a passing resemblance to various depictions of the guardian of Sherwood Forest.

Influence begets influence, and as it happens: Peter Pan served as the inspiration for another internationally beloved character, The Legend of Zelda’s mysterious Link. In an interview Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of​ Zelda and the big brains behind S​uper Mario Bros, revealed that the series’ Hero Of Time was based on Barrie’s famous character by way of his Disney depiction, as Nintendo attempted to emulate an established template for creating a recognisable icon.

Peter Pan served as the inspiration for another internationally beloved character, ​The Legend of Zelda​’s mysterious Link

Link’s appearance might have been based on Peter Pan and his Ocarina of Time companion Navi on Tinkerbell, but the Hyrule warrior’s lethal proficiency with a bow and arrow owes more to Robin Hood than the child-friendly hero. And if Peter Pan was based on Robin Hood or any other local Nottingham figure, then ​The Legend of Zelda owes its success in part to the city.

Indeed, the Great Deku Tree, a recurring character made famous in Ocarina of Time, has overt similarities with Sherwood Forest’s own Major Oak. Both are situated in the heart of mysterious and legendary forests, are hollow enough to warrant hideouts (or, in the instance of the Deku Tree, an entire dungeon), and rich mythologies have grown up around both trees.

With all that in mind, it’s interesting to wonder what other aspects of the Zelda universe were secretly based on Nottingham. Could Lake Zora be a stand-in for Highfield Lake? Hyrule Town shares some similarities with Old Market Square, and both are bustling centres of activity. Kakariko Windmill might have been based on George Green’s, the Temple of Time doesn’t look unlike St Barnabas’ Cathedral, and Lon Lon Ranch is as much of a haven from the hustle of town as is Stonebridge City Farm. The cyclical destruction and reconstruction of Hyrule Castle could have been inspired by the sieges and riots on various manifestations of Nottingham Castle, while Death Mountain is no more steep or treacherous than any hill on University Park Campus.

Okay, maybe some of these comparisons are grasping at straws, but one thing is clear: without Nottingham, there would have been no Peter Pan, and without Peter Pan, there would be no Hero of Hyrule.


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