Marathon trek from Peterborough to Ely to remember Hereward’s 1070 conquest

A group of historical re-enactors are recreating a marathon trek across Cambridgeeshire to remember a conquest 951 years ago.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 10:55 am
The team set off from Peterborough Cathedral today
The team set off from Peterborough Cathedral today

Just before daybreak on June 2 1070, a fleet of Viking longships fared into Peterborough Onboard was an exiled English rebel named Hereward and his Band of Men. They had allied with elite Danish Viking warriors called Housecarls and they sacked the monastery at Peterborough leaving it desolate and ruined. Hereward and his allies made their way back to their monastery base at Ely ready to cause more havoc for England’s new French-Norman king, William ‘the Conqueror’. Hereward was Outlawed and Excommunicated for his actions, yet claimed he was stealing the gold and silver to keep it from the clutches on the new incoming Norman abbot, a man with a reputation for being a ‘harsh man’ called Turold.

Today a group of historical re-enactors set off from Peterborough Cathedral to recreate the walk, and raise money for charity.

Re-enactor and long-distance hiker Lewis Kirkbride has taken up the role of Hereward, and with his own Band of Men has taken up the Hereward Charity Challenge for his chosen charity, ManHealth,

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This morning he received the Hereward Charity Challenge Trophy from the Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, Dean of Peterborough. The trophy represents the gold and silver Hereward stole from the monastery and Lewis will hike the 40+ miles along the Hereward Way Long Distance Walking Path to Ely.

Today (Wednesday) Lewis and his Band will be in Whittlesey at around 11:30 am until Noon before arriving outside March Library in the West End Park, where people may gather to hear a short talk on the historical event from Historian David Maile of the WakeHereward Project and from Hereward re-enactor Lewis Kirkbride.

March Library are also hosting the WakeHereward Project’s 13 Exhibition Boards which tell the story of Hereward’s exploits and his defence of the Fens against William the Conqueror.

Tomorrow sees the group leaving from March Market Place at 7am and walking the Hereward Way through Christchurch, Welney and Little Downham, and arriving outside Ely Cathedral at 6pm.

The hikers will be led into March and Ely by James Bowman leading with the popular Fenland Flag he created and Hereward’s Standard Bearer Raenald the Steward of Ramsey will be holding aloft the newly designed flag of Hereward.

On Saturday, June 5 re-enactor Steven Payne takes on the role of Prior Athelwold and steals some of the gold and silver from Hereward and the Vikings and makes his way to Ramsey Abbey. To re- enact this episode of the Hereward legend Steven will push the Hereward Charity Challenge trophy in a medieval cart. Leaving Ely Cathedral at 10am, passing through Chatteris at 1pm and arriving at Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse at 4pm.

Then on Celebrate the Fens Day, Saturday, June 19, re-enactor Nigel Amos takes up the role of Turold the newly appointed Norman Abbot of Peterborough who after some time heard that some of the gold and silver had been secretly hidden at Ramsey Abbey and goes to Ramsey to retrieve the loot.

Nigel will be on horseback picking up the trophy at 10am from Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse before stopping at Pondersbridge for an hour between Noon and 1pm and arriving at Peterborough Cathedral at 4pm.

Lewishad set a target of raising £1070 (1070 being the year of Hereward’s Rising in Peterborough) for ManHealth - but this has already been surpassed, and he is hoping to raise as much as possible for the cause.

Donations can be made via the Facebook Page at Facebook.com/herewardcharitychallenge

Full details of the Hereward Rising! Event featuring the Hereward Charity Challenge can be found on the WakeHereward Project website at wwww.herewardthewake.co.uk