Eye village sign was originally put up in 1977 as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee. On one side you have the ‘town’ crier – the last one died in the 1930’s – and on the other side you have Hereward the Wake.
The ‘town’ crier the purpose of the crier was to proclaim local news. It would have been a very important position fullfilling the service that newspapers, radio and TV provides nowadays. Calling out the villagers to help in picking peas was one of the things that was known to happen at harvesting time.
On the opposite side is Hereward the Wake and maybe his mother Lady Godiva with what could be an Anglo Saxon Chapel, with a thatched roof in the background.
Hereward the Wake (c. 1035 – 1072) was known in his own times as Hereward the Outlaw or Hereward the Exile. He was an 11th-century Anglo-Danish leader involved in resistance to the Norman conquest of England. I won’t go into much detail here as there’s an excellent article on Hereward the Wake on the Ely website here.
The evidence for his inclusion on the sign is pretty vague although there is a good chance he may have passed through Eye at some point, maybe on his way to or from Ely, or Crowland where he owned land. He was in the area at some point as he is known to have plundered the Abbey of Peterborough in 1070. The Anglo–Saxon Chronicle being written at the time says that among those at the sack of Peterborough were Hereward and his crew. At that time Eye and the surrounding lands were owned by the Cathedral.
The sign was restored in 2008 by a Daved A Smith.