To date the group have held two productive meetings in Sedbury Community Hall, chaired by Dick Finch and Simon Maddison. During this time an operating framework of our aims, scope and organisation has been formulated which outlines our practical plans of work.
Offas Dyke South Study Group Framework
Offa’s Dyke South Study Group: Outline Operating Framework
Simon Maddison & Dick Finch, October 31st 2018
This revised Operating Framework has been drafted following the initial Steering Group meeting, held at Sedbury Village Hall on the evening of 25 October 2018.
• The aims of the Study Group are, for the defined length of Offa’s Dyke:
• To Record the Dyke
• To Discover new information about the Dyke
• To aid Conservation of the Dyke
• To reach out to the local community and engage it with the Dyke
• To Celebrate the Dyke
The geographical extent of the Dyke to be covered is from its termination on the River Severn, to where it intersects with the brook at Brockweir. This extent to be confirmed with the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory and can be revised and extended in the future as the Study Group agrees.
The provisional name of the group is the: Offa’s Dyke South Study Group (ODSSG). This to be reviewed and finalised in due course.
The ODSSG will be set up as an independent group with a yet to be defined connection with Tidenham History Group and possibly other local relevant organisations, and will work in collaboration with and under the auspices of the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory (https://offaswatsdyke.wordpress.com). The ODSSG will collaborate with local history and archaeology groups as are interested and willing to work together to the aims of the ODSSG.
The group will set up a steering group from committed volunteers, to set out a framework of operation, and a 2-5 year plan of action.
Activities will be entirely voluntary, and any willing, committed and able volunteer will be welcome to take part and contribute. A contact list will be established, initially comprising those who attended or expressed an interest in the day school.
The group will set up a simple web site to report and inform. This should be linked in to the Collaboratory web site, and this cooperation will be sought. The group will also use other social media to communicate and publicise its activities as agreed by the steering group.
Meetings will be held regularly by the steering group, and open meetings will be held from time to time to inform, engage, report and plan.
Once the group is established, then a constitution should be drawn up to allow for the ongoing running of the group, and for the election of the steering group at regular intervals.
The ODSSG will invite suitably qualified and eminent specialists on the Dyke to act as an advisory panel for the group. The steering group will arrange meetings with the advisory panel from time to time as required to advise and guide the activities of the group, and to participate in dissemination activities as appropriate. A candidate list drawn from contributors to the Study Group day in October has been drawn up, and invitations sent out.
Activities concerned with the Dyke could include:
• Field walking
• Recording (photographic, written descriptions, condition reports)
• Investigation (e.g. to identify previously unknown parts of the Dyke)
• Surveying (topographic survey)
• More detailed investigations, intrusive or non-intrusive (subject to planning and appropriate permissions)
• Open meetings, possibly combined with other activities such as a walk
• Outreach to the local community, schools and other educational institutions and youth organisations
The group is entirely voluntary. It is anticipated that events, such as the Study Day organised in October 2018 should be self-financing (e.g. through ticketing to cover e.g. hall hire and refreshments).
As the group establishes itself and engages in activities, then it is anticipated that more significant funding may be required, e.g. for detailed investigations or conservation activities. In this case it will be necessary to seek funding through grant applications, and other means (e.g. crowd sourcing). It may also be appropriate to institute group membership and a membership subscription. To these ends it will be necessary to appoint a group treasurer and establish a bank account. This will be covered within the constitution of the group.
The group will need to draw on existing records, such as:
• Aerial photography
• Lidar surveys
• Reports, records and photographs
• Drawings and plans
• Property deeds (e.g. where recent building is on or near the Dyke)
• Anecdote and folklore
It is also expected that the group will generate new records concerning the Dyke, such as:
• Detailed written reports, covering dimensions, form, aspect, condition (to this end it is proposed to design a form/ questionnaire to provide a standard format for reports; that designed for the ‘Atlas of Hillforts’ project is a useful model)
• Detailed topographical surveys, particularly for newly identified parts of the Dyke
It will be necessary for one person in the steering group to take overall responsibility for records, and to liaise with the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory, to agree formats for records with third parties and arrange for suitable repositories.
Discrete sections of the Dyke
For practical purposes the covered section of the Dyke is to be divided into sections that for a variety of reasons are suitable for self-contained activity and study, whether through form, lack of knowledge, particular problems (e.g. 20th Century building) etc.
The initial proposal is as follows:
• Start/Finsh at Sedbury Cliffs to Pennsylvania Farm, via Buttington Tump
• Pennsylvania Farm to Tallards Marsh
• Tallards Marsh to Chepstow Bypass
• Chepstow Bypass to Dead Man’s Lane (Old Chepstow Bridge)
• Dead Man’s Lane to the Nature Reserve
• Nature Reserve to East Cliff
• East Cliff to Spital Meend
• Spital Meend to Dennel Hill
• Dennel Hill to Brockweir
An overall 2-5-year plan should be drawn up, with a list of questions to be answered, for each of these sections individually. Possibly we would have a ‘champion’ for each section who would take responsibility for the individual plan and work through a set of activities to be carried out over the plan period, and work through this in coordination, so that we can establish an outline set of activities e.g. weekend walks, particular study sessions etc. and engage the community in taking part.