Coordinates: 52°59′12″N 3°1′43″W / 52.98667°N
3.02861°W / 52.98667; -3.02861
Wat's Dyke in brown;
Offa's Dyke in red
Wat's Dyke (Welsh: Clawdd Wat) is a 40-mile (64 km) earthwork
running through the northern
Welsh Marches from
Basingwerk Abbey on
the River Dee estuary, passing to the east of
Oswestry and on to
Maesbury in Shropshire, England. It runs generally parallel to Offa's
Dyke, sometimes within a few yards but never more than three miles
away. It now appears insignificant, sometimes a raised hedgerow and in
other places is now no more than a cropmark, the ditch long since
filled in and the bank ploughed away, but originally it was a
considerable construction, considered to be more sophisticated than
1 Construction and siting
2 Dating controversy
3 See also
5 Further reading
6 External links
Construction and siting
It consists of the usual bank and ditch of an ancient dyke, with the
ditch on the western side, meaning that the dyke faces
Wales and by
implication can be seen as protecting the English lands to the east.
The placement of the dyke in the terrain also shows that care was
taken to provide clear views to the west and to use local features to
the best defensive advantage.
The dyke was previously thought to date to the early 8th century,
constructed by Aethelbald king of
Mercia who reigned from 716 to 757.
Aethelbald's successor, Offa, built the dyke which carries his name at
some point during his reign (757 to 796).
Excavations in the 1990s at Maes-y-Clawdd near
Oswestry uncovered the
remains of a small fire site together with eroded shards of
Romano-British pottery and quantities of charcoal, which have been
dated to between 411 and 561 AD (centered around 446 AD). This
evidence would seem to place the building of the dyke in the era of
the post-Roman kingdom whose capital was at
Wroxeter (just south of
modern-day Shrewsbury) about 10 miles to the east.
The dating of the fire site and hence the dyke has been disputed, and
it has been suggested that owing to the difficulties inherent in
radiocarbon dating, this single date cannot be trusted and also that
the dyke could easily have been built on top of the fire site at a
Excavations in 2006 suggested a much later date of 792-852, and the
earlier date is now thought to relate to a fire site which preceded
the dyke. A likely context for construction is the 820s, when the
Mercian king Coenwulf was fighting against a resurgent Welsh
Scots' Dike three and a half mile linear earthwork, in 1552 to mark
the division of the
Debatable lands and thereby settle the exact
boundary between the Kingdoms of Scotland and England.
^ a b Keith Nurse (2001). "Wat's In A Name?".
^ Editor: Simon Denison (November 1999). "British Archaeology Issue
49". CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
^ Keith J. Matthews (c. 2000). "Dating Wat's Dyke".
Wat's Dyke Dated: Was it Coenwulf's Dyke?" British Archaeology,
Blake, Steve and Scott, Lloyd (2003): The Keys to Avalon: The True
Location of Arthur’s Kingdom Revealed. Revised Edition, published by
Hannaford, H. R. (1998): "Archaeological Excavations on Wat’s Dyke
at Maes-y-Clawdd," Archaeology Service,
Shropshire County Council,
report no. 132, December 1997.
Worthington, Margaret (1997): '"Wat’s Dyke: An Archaeological and
Historical Enigma," Bulletin John Rylands Library, Manchester, Vol 79,
no. 3, 1997.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wat's Dyke.
 - trail following the Dyke
www.geograph.co.uk - photos o