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More Dyke Confusion: Wat’s Dyke at Erddig

October 27, 2016

Archaeodeath

Wat’s Dyke

dsc09321 The view west from outside Erddig Hall over the valley of the Black Brook

Running for 38 miles, seemingly continuously from the Dee estuary at Basingwerk to Maesbury Marsh south of Oswestry, Wat’s Dyke is the second longest earthwork known from early medieval Britain, only over-shadowed in scale by its neighbour: Offa’s Dyke.

As Cyril Fox put it:

‘Wat’s Dyke, throughout its course from the Dee to the Middle Severn Valley, marks the boundary between the lowland of the English Midlands, and the hill country of northern Wales’ (Fox 1934, 211)

and its course:

‘is designed to include as much country as lowlanders could conveniently occupy or control’ (ibid.).

dsc09309 Wat’s Dyke in Erddig Woods, looking north

This west-facing earthwork, was thought by Fox, and subsequent by many other scholars, as a less grandiose and shorter predecessor to Offa’s Dyke (Fox 1955; Ray and Bapty 2016). Building on Fox’s first important…

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