Historians aim to celebrate the life of ‘Fenland Robin Hood’ Hereward the Wake by creating new group

David Maile and Michael Gilbert.

David Maile and Michael Gilbert. - Credit: Archant

A pair of former classmates have reunited – and are aiming to raise the profile of one of the region’s most important historical figures.

David Maile and Michael Gilbert are to mark the 950th anniversary of the return of the outlaw Hereward the Wake to England by forming a society in his name – the WakeHereward Society.

Hereward the Wake led the resistance to William the Conqueror from his Fenland stronghold in Ely in the 11th century, and David and Michael want to celebrate his efforts by forming the society in September.

David said: “Sadly, Hereward the Wake is in danger of being lost to history and his story has largely been forgotten, even by the people of the Fens.

“During this period of change and uncertainty, links with the past and a sense of continuity become even more important.


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“The society is being formed to keep alive the memory of this enigmatic figure that played such an important role in the early history of Fenland.”

The society wants to raise awareness of Hereward, encourage understanding of the history of the landscape of the Fens and promote the history of the area by installing an interpretation board in Ely, as well as printing brochures full of information to be made available in schools and libraries across Cambridgeshire.

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David also plans on delivering a series of talks with local groups to re-tell the Hereward story and to develop the ‘Fenland trail,’ linking places of importance around the region.

“Our aim is to raise the profile of Hereward across his native Fens and beyond, and in many ways we are beginning to see the fruits of this labour of love,” said David, who walked from Peterborough to Ely last year to mark the anniversary of Hereward’s attack on Peterborough Abbey.

Hereward’s legacy lives on in Fenland to this day, with the Hereward Way - a long-distance footpath from Peterborough to Ely – and Hereward Hall, a boy’s boarding house at King’s Ely.

For more information, call David on 07790 709407 or Michael on 07831 323062.

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