The publication of Keith Ray and Ian Bapty’s book Offa’s Dyke: Landscape and Hegemony in Eighth-Century Britain (Windgather, 2016) provides a valuable impetus for fostering new collaborative projects on the linear earthworks of the modern Anglo-Welsh border. In this context, I’ve been working with four other individuals to establish the ‘Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory’ (ODC). The ODC aims to be a research network of individuals, groups and organisations working to promote and support the investigation of Offa’s Dyke, Wat’s Dyke, and related monuments. We hope the ODC will promote and sustain investigations of their date, composition, monumental biographies, landscape situations and settings. My co-convenors are:

  • Dr Paul Belford (Director, Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust),
  • Andrew Blake (AONB Officer, Wye Valley AONB),
  • Christopher Catling (Secretary, RCAHMW)
  • Dr Keith Ray (Director, Nexus Heritage).

We launched the ODC on Friday 28 April 2017 at the University Centre Shrewsbury through a day workshop  co-organised with Dr James Pardoe (Director of Design, Heritage & the Built Environment, University Centre Shrewsbury) and Dr Patricia Murrieta-Flores (Director, Digital Humanities Research Centre, University of Chester). To this workshop, we invited over 70 academics, heritage practitioners and representatives of institutions and organisations actively involving in managing and researching Offa’s and Wat’s Dykes and other linear earthworks.

To provide a digital platform for the ODC, already containing a series of documents linked to the workshop, we have set up a website here.

Here is the programme for the day, comprising of a keynote by Dr Keith Ray and a subsequent series of short talks on important recent and ongoing research of early medieval linear earthworks.



9.30–10.00            Coffee and Registration

10.00–10.05          Welcome & Introduction – Howard Williams

10.05-10.20           The Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory: Origins, Purpose and Parameters – Keith Ray


Comparative and Critical Perspectives                              Chair: Andrew Blake

10.20-10.35           Dating Dykes – Tim Malim

10.35–10.50           The Extent and Purpose of Wansdyke – Alex Langlands

10.50–11.05           Linear Earthworks and Travel – Stuart Brookes

11.05–11.20           Early Medieval Artefacts and Offa’s Dyke: A PAS View – Peter Reavill

11.20–11.50           Coffee/Tea Break


New Work and Initiatives          Chair: Christopher Catling

11.50–12.05           Anglo-Welsh Boundaries in the Northern March: Evidence from Place-Names – David Parsons

12.05–12.20          The Pillar of Eliseg & Linear Earthworks – Patricia Murrieta-Flores & Howard Williams

12.20–12.35           Castle Form and Linear Earthworks – Rachel Swallow

12.35–12.50           Antiquity and the Spirit of Progress: Development and Heritage Management on Offa’s Dyke –

Paul Belford

12.50–13.00           The Offa’s Dyke Conservation Plan – Will Davies

13.00-13.50            Buffet Lunch

13.50                       Group Photo of the Workshop Delegates


Roundtable Discussion                                Chairs: Paul Belford & Caroline Pudney

14.00–14.30          Dating and Composition

14.30–15.00           Related Features and Landscape Placement

15.00–15.45           Landscape Studies

15.45- 16.00          Closing Remarks: Andy Seaman


Following the morning talks was a ’roundtable’ discussion. As it transpired, with over 40 people, this turned into a massive circle of chairs.

I will be adding updates to the ODC website in coming months, including details of the ODC talks and roundtable discusions, as well as details of planned future events. In the meantime, I want to thank my co-organisers, co-convenors, chairs, speakers, and helpers, as well as all the delegates who contributed to the debate and discussion.


List of Delegates at the Inaugural ODC workshop

  • John Baker, University of Nottingham
  • Mel Barge, Historic England
  • Louise Barker, RCAHMW
  • Paul Belford, Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust
  • Kate Biggs, Forest of Dean Buildings Preservation Trust
  • Andrew Blake, Wye Valley AONB
  • Stuart Brookes, UCL
  • Morn Capper, University of Chester
  • Giles Carey, Shropshire County Council
  • Christopher Catling, RCAHMW
  • Rhiannon Comeau, UCL
  • Brian Costello, University of Chester
  • Will Davies, Cadw
  • Rob Dingle, Offa’s Dyke National Trail
  • Ian Dormor, Offa’s Dyke Association
  • Gary Duckers, University of Chester
  • Sue Evans, Llangollen Museum
  • Seren Griffiths, MMU
  • Hugh Hannaford, Shropshire County Council
  • Jeremy Haslam, Institute of Historical Research, University of London
  • Tim Hoverd, Herefordshire County Council
  • Jon Hoyle, Gloucestershire County Council
  • John Hunt, University of Birmingham
  • Charles Insley, Manchester University
  • Bill Klemperer, Historic England
  • Alex Langlands, Swansea University
  • Gary Lock, Oxford University
  • Alison MacDonald, Historic England
  • Tim Malim, SLR Consulting
  • Dave McGlade, Offa’s Dyke Association
  • Jessica Murray, University of Chester
  • Patricia Murrieta-Flores, University of Chester
  • David Parsons, University of Wales
  • Alessandra Perrone, Historic England
  • Caroline Pudney, University of Chester
  • Keith Ray, Nexus Heritage
  • Peter Reavill, Portable Antiquities Scheme
  • Mark Redknap, National Museum of Wales
  • Andy Seaman, Christ Church Canterbury
  • Bob Silvester, University of Chester
  • Rachel Swallow, University of Chester
  • Alice Thorne, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
  • Roger White, University of Birmingham
  • Andy Wigley, Shropshire County Council
  • Howard Williams, University of Chester
  • Ben Wills-Eve, University of Chester
  • Margaret Worthington