The Teacher 187

13 The Teacher  1-2 (187) 2022 Culture              Fig. 9. Balsar’s Hill to the south of Ely, showing the ring ditch and bank around the former Iron Age Fort. Hereward escaped and with a small band hid in the marshes coming out occasionally to raid Norman properties. It was then said that Hereward tried to negotiate with King William but this failed and he was goaded into a fight and was captured. His followers then managed to liberate him as Hereward was being transferred from one castle to another. The stories now become conflicting. In one version he successfully negotiated a pardon from the king, on another he hid and lived out his life in hiding. The origin of the name “the Wake” is unclear but may mean watchful. It is suggested that he may have been called “the Wake” because he managed to escape an assassination attempt. Whilst it is clear that Hereward existed as a person there are few facts, beyond his involvement in the Insurrection of Ely, that are known with any certainty. Various exploits attributed to him may be mythical or the work of other people including local bandits, but what is clear is that the stories around him promote him as an honourable resistance leader fighting for the Saxon way of life against oppressive Norman overlords, who are bent on exploiting the Saxon population. Many of the stories may well have added to the legends of the better known, but more mythical, Robin Hood. All countries have their folk heroes of course, we just have to read the tales of William Tell or Janosik.