Offa's Dyke: Britain's longest ancient monument to be restored

After sustained damage to Britain’s longest ancient monument through erosion and vandalism, organisations have joined forces to 'save' Offa’s Dyke.

Offa's Dyke at Treflach where vegetation has overgrown the ancient monument
Offa's Dyke at Treflach where vegetation has overgrown the ancient monument

In the 50th year of the Offa’s Dyke Path, the 'Offa's Dyke Rescue Fund’ has been launched by conservation groups and Government bodies wanting to protect the 1,200 year-old path.

After part of the path near Chirk sustained substantial vandalism, the groups have joined forces in an attempt to secure its fragile existence.

In July this year the Offa's Dyke Association and Centre based in Knighton will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of Offa's Dyke Path National Trail.

Chairman of the association Dave McGlade said: "The 2017 Offa's Dyke Conservation Management Plan condition survey was a wake-up call to us all because it revealed that only 8.7 per cent of the Dyke is in favourable condition.

"Thanks to decades of damage and erosion the archaeological record, unnoticed and unrecorded, is literally tumbling down the slope."

Centuries of gradual benign neglect have left their mark on the fabric of the Dyke, Dave said, but in recent years it has sustained some deliberate and irreversible acts of damage at various locations along its length.

Owing to the scheduled monument existing largely within private land, it falls upon its landowners and local communities to keep it maintained.

In consultation with Cadw, the National Trail unit and English Heritage, the Offa's Dyke Rescue Fund will seek to make purchases of parts of the Dyke considered to be 'under threat' from sustained damage or gross negligence.

The fund will also be made available to the Cadw and Historic England sponsored Offas Dyke Conservation Project Officer to pay for proactive management interventions. These will include the removal of overgrown scrub vegetation and, where necessary, essential repairs to the Dyke in order to save Britain's longest ancient monument for posterity.

Simon Baynes, MP for Clwyd South in North Wales, said: "I applaud the commitment of the Offa’s Dyke Association to maintaining and supporting this extraordinary and much loved national monument, particularly through the Associations Offas Dyke Rescue Fund."

A spokesperson from Historic England said: "This is important work because Offa’s Dyke is the largest, most impressive, and most complete purpose-built early medieval monument in Western Europe.

"It is the largest civil engineering project ever undertaken by an Anglo-Saxon state, and the most impressive Anglo-Saxon monument to now survive in the UK. The Dyke is all the more important as little visible evidence of the peoples and historical processes of the early medieval period now remains."

Some 80 miles of Britain's longest monument – an earthwork Dyke – was built in the late eighth century by the Anglo-Saxon, King of Mercia, Offa. Stretching from Flintshire in the north to Gloucestershire in the south, today some 80 miles of the monument survive in varying states of preservation and condition.

Offa's Dyke Path itself runs for 177 miles between Prestatyn in the north and Chepstow in the south and for long sections it shadows the monument, notably in Shropshire, Powys and in the Wye Valley in Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire.

Visit justgiving.com/campaign/offasdyke to donate to the fund.

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