Wat’s Dyke at Hope on display, looking from the south, standing in the now-shallow ditch and looking at the bank
Looking south along Wat’s Dyke from the ditch

Yesterday I embarked on a road trip with my brand-new doctoral student – Abigail – to explore parts of the Vale of Llangollen. More on that later. En route, we stopped at Hope, Flintshire, to inspect a section of the Mercian frontier work known as Wat’s Dyke. On the outskirts of the village to the north-north-west, the dyke is well preserved beneath modern property boundaries beside the Wrexham Road (A550). Subsequently it is open to view on open and well-maintained grounds in front of a modern housing estate. Further north-north-west, the dyke has a just-built bungalow sitting on top of it: I trust they had planning permission for that one…

In the photographs you can see the much-denuded  but still-discernible traces of Wat’s Dyke – a bank and a ditch.

We were just taking photographs and talking about the significance and date of this monument – now regarded as likely dating to the early 9th century as discussed here – when a resident engaged us in conversation and discussed the monument. As well as working at a nearby university and being extremely interested in the monument.

The stone with plaque, commemorating Wat’s Dyke now inaccurately suggesting it dates to the 8th century

Significant for this post, she kindly pointed out that, part-hidden within foliage beside the earthwork is a memorial stone, erected to coincide with the building of the new estate, marking the supposed significance of Britain’s second-longest linear earthwork. I hadn’t noticed or realised that the earthwork was actually ‘commemorated’ in this fashion with a large stone! I’d visited this spot before, even viewing a house within the estate, and never noticed the stone! Indeed, to see it, you have to approach on foot from the houses themselves; this isn’t for tourists or anyone else to see.

The bilingual plaque

I have talked about the barely visible heritage signs for Offa’s Dyke and Wat’s Dyke at Ruabon, but this represents another dimension: a monumental commemorative stone for one of the dykes; in plain view and yet still part-concealed. Given this spatial and semi-public dynamic, might this a new form of monument/memorial that might be called a ‘residential monument’?

Looking north along Wat’s Dyke