Everyone knows that in the late 8th century, Offa King of the
Mercians built a mighty earth bank and ditch along the length of the western
border of the kingdom. There are a number of other earthen dykes in Britain,
but Offa’s was and is the greatest in terms of sheer size as well as
importance. No contemporary documentation survives, but the current belief is
that Offa’s Dyke was not built just to keep the Welsh under control along the
border, but as a symbol of the power and growing dominance of Mercia among the
Anglo Saxon Kingdoms.
Tidenham parish we are lucky to have some of the finest remaining lengths of
the Dyke, including the unique section in Sedbury that faces South instead of
the prevailing West.
the last couple of years, a renaissance in interest and study of the Dyke has
led to the formation of the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory whose main purpose is to
support a network of individuals, groups and organisations working to promote
awareness and appreciation of, and to manage and investigate, Offa’s Dyke and
Wat’s Dyke, as well as related monuments and their wider landscapes (Wat’s Dyke
is a similar, but probably older, dyke, running quite close to Offa’s from the
Dee estuary to a point in Shropshire).
Which is where our Group comes in! We have the opportunity to be the catalyst for an alliance of local history groups and interested individuals whose aim is the research, study, conservation and promotion of public awareness of Offa’s Dyke in Tidenham and further north to Brockweir. We feel that this alliance has a key part to play in one or more of these aims: from looking for the ‘missing’ bits of the Dyke around Castleford and along the cliffs of the Wye for instance; to looking up local documents and histories; to talking to family and friends who have memories of the Dyke and who may even live in a house whose garden contains possible remnants of it; to taking part in displays and events to promote awareness of the Dyke to young and old in the parish as well as tourists. I’m sure many more activities will come to mind
particularly important and exciting project will be the investigation of the
connection between the Dyke’s progress in the fields below Castleford and its
crossing of the Roman road to the old bridge. And all this within sight of an
important Norman Castle that the Conqueror had built very soon after landing.