On Saturday we attended a geocaching event to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Village Signs cache series. This series has over 70 caches in it now and was created by our friends Geoff and Melissa who go by the caching name of Smokeypugs. Whilst they have created many of the caches themselves anyone can add to the series by creating their own village sign cache anywhere in the world… all you need is a village sign.
In the UK, the tradition of village signs is believed to have started in Norfolk early in the 20th century when Edward VII suggested that village signs would aid motorists and give a feature of interest on the Royal Estate of Sandringham. The spread of interest beyond Norfolk can be attributed to Prince Albert, Duke of York who gave a speech to the Royal Academy in 1920 promoting the wider use of village signs. Since then signs have started appearing in villages and towns all over the country with great numbers of them being created around times of national importance such as the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and subsequent jubilees as well as the turn of the Millennium.
The signs themselves ar often great works of art and tell many stories of their own, particular to the villages and towns that they are being used to represent. The Village Sign geocaches are generally placed very close to the actual signs and as well as being the source of another smiley for you you can often learn some very interesting information about the sign and indeed the location where it is placed from the cache description. For example Take the village sign cache at Ringstead in Norfolk (VS# 13 Ringstead – GC4C2JB) which We logged last year as it is not far from where my mum lives. From the cache description we can learn the following :-“The village sign is made to represent the villages many constitute parts. Starting with the roundels, the cross keys represent St Peters church sadly now a ruin with just a part of the tower standing as a listed building. The other roundel with a white cross represents our remaining church of St Andrew watching sedately over the village in the high street. Moving up the sign we come to the central area depicting on the lower left in beige the main cereal crop at the time of manufacture, barley, then a white line representing Ringstead’s position on Peddars Way. To the right of Peddars Way the green area depicts the other main crop at the time, sugar beet. A vintage tractor symbolizing the villages long standing farming traditions completes the lower portion of the inner circle. At the top of the inner circle starting from the left is St Peters tower, the chapel, St Andrews church, Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee tree and the windmill are depicted. The inner circle symbolises the main village and the outer circle represents the outer fringes of the parish.”
So far we have found about half a dozen of the VS caches and hope to be able to find many more in the future. There are quite a number of them not too far away and even though they all belong to a single series the caches themselves are all very different, some being traditionals whilst others are multis or even puzzle caches. It was great to attend the event which was luckily not too far away from us in a Pub, and we got to put a few more faces to names in our local caching community as well as catch up with some we already knew. On top of all that I got to have a nice pint of Real Ale into the bargain.
So take a look around your local area, you might find a Village Sign geocache not too far away from you. If not, and your town or village has a sign then why not create a VS cache yourself. If you are interested in adding to the series them please contact smokeypugs via their geocaching.com profile so that they can keep track of numbers etc.