If time and regulations allow, Mark and I will finish off our sabbatical by travelling along the route of Offa’s Dyke (or as close as we can get to it on roads), stopping off where we can find visible remains.
Mark and I are going to live in Herefordshire (or Worcestershire) in the Welsh Marches when we move on from Llandudno in summer 2022, so travelling the route of Offa’s Dyke seems an excellent way to help make the transition to the border counties. As ever, following a historical route is important to us and even the terms “border counties” and “the marches” are full of historical meaning.
The text below is an extract from the Offa’s Dyke Association website.
Offa was King of Mercia from 757 to 796 AD. His kingdom covered the area between the Trent/Mersey rivers in the North to the Thames Valley in the South, and from the Welsh border in the West to the Fens in the East.
Offa’s Dyke is a linear earthwork which roughly follows the Welsh/English boundary. It consists of a ditch and rampart constructed with the ditch on the Welsh-facing side, and appears to have been carefully aligned to present an open view into Wales from along its length. As originally constructed, it must have been about 27 metres wide and 8 metres from the ditch bottom to the bank top.
The origins of the Dyke are shrouded in mystery so that many of its aspects are speculated upon rather than being fully understood. Asser, the biographer of King Alfred, gave the first known reference to it when he wrote, about 100 years later that a certain vigorous king called Offa……had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia from sea to sea.
Much of the Dyke is still traceable along the 80 miles from the Wye valley to Wrexham. In places it still retains most of its original impressive dimensions while in other parts it has disappeared due to 1200 years of farming activity and its presence can only be detected by archaelogical work.