Recently I visited Knighton’s Offa’s Dyke Centre and explored sections of Offa’s Dyke to its north and south. What I gained from this is a clear sense of how this monumental earthwork traversed and controlled the valley of the River Teme. This is one of the sections where Offa’s Dyke and the English-Welsh cross each other, but do not coincide: the Shropshire/Powys border follows the Teme westwards and eastwards from Knighton, while the dyke overlooks the valley and then crosses it, heading broadly north-south.
At the centre of the heritage conservation and interpretation of the dyke, I was struck by the nature of the earthwork and also the various monuments and memorials that frame it: commemorating both the early medieval monument and the various conservation strategies that have surrounded it. Notably, there are monuments commemorating the Offa’s Dyke Park and Offa’s Dyke Path, as well as the dyke itself.
Below the Offa’s Dyke Park one can follow the Trail across the English-Welsh border beside the Teme. Here we return to the elaborate logos and signs of the footpath, but also a neat little feature commemorating the Welsh-English border. One can stand either side of the border for a photo on the footbridge. It was being painted the day I visited, so I was denied that experience!
What is striking is that this node, where dyke and border intersect, is ripe for further discussion/explanation of the contrast between the two. For here, they are clearly NOT the same thing, even if they are part of a broader story of contestation in the borderlands between the Welsh and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and the emergence of a March in the 11th and 12th centuries AD. I wonder if visitors and walkers appreciate the many enigmas that still surround Offa’s Dykes date and construction, and subsequently its relationship with England and Wales? Still, going into the nearby Offa’s Dyke Centre will certainly help them in this task…