many years as the ‘Old Man of the Mountain’. But the true circumstances of his life or death after the Siege of Ely remain a mystery. Even though he is now known as Hereward ‘the Wake’, Hereward of Bourne was not given the suffix ‘Wake’ until many years after his death. The term is thought to come from the Old French ‘wac’ dog, as in wake-dog, the name for dogs used to warn of intruders.

The present-day Wakes of Courteenhall are directly descended from a Geoffrey Wac, who died in 1150. His son, Hugh Wac, who died 1172, married Emma, the daughter of Baldwin Fitzgilbert and his unnamed wife. That wife, it is supposed, was the granddaughter of either Gunnhild or Estrith in the female line from Hereward and Torfida. It is suggested that her mother had married Richard de Rulos and her grandmother had married Hugh de Evermur, a Norman knight in the service of King William. It is a tenuous link, but a remote possibility.

There are also other claimants, including the Harvard family (the founders of Harvard University) and the Howard family (the Dukes of Norfolk and Earls Marshal of England).

he underside of the collar beam 63 feet 6 inches, so an additional height in the centre of 23 feet 6 inches has been gained by the use of hammer beams.

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