Where does the phrase “all around Robin Hood’s barn” come from and What does it mean?

Robin Hood, or “Robert of the wood,” as some have explained the name, may have been altogether a legendary figure or may have actually existed. No one knows.

The earliest literary reference to him is in Langland’s Piers Plowman, written about 1377. He may have lived, according to some slight evidence, toward the latter part of the twelfth century.

But Robin Hood’s house was Sherwood Forest; its roof the leaves and branches. His dinner was the king’s deer; his wealth the purses of hapless travelers.

What need had he of a barn, and how was it laid out if to go around it means, as the use of the phrase implies, a rambling roundabout course? The explanation is simple. He had no barn.

His granary, when he had need of one, was the cornfields of the neighborhood. To go around his barn was to make a circuitous route around the neighboring fields.