The English Curse Songfacts states that this song tells the story of William II (c.1056 – 2 August 1100) who was killed in a hunting accident. There is a legend which claims that the king died because locals had placed a curse on him for stealing their land.
Many years back when these old oaks were young,
not long after the north men had come
a low and evil deed was done
in the dark of the new forest