Over the last 18 months ago I’ve written multiple blog posts about the early ninth-century linear earthwork, presumably built by order of a Mercian royal successor to Offa, that runs c. 38 miles from Basingwerk (Flintshire) south to Maesbury (Shropshire): Wat’s Dyke. In one particular post, I focused on Wat’s Dyke in proximity to Erddig Hall, Wrexham.

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Looking north, the bank (right) and ditch (centre), seemingly with a counterscarp bank (left), overlooks the Black Brook

Since then, in June 2018, CPAT organised an excavation to find if Wat’s Dyke existed south the Erddig Hall. They discovered Wat’s Dyke with a 2m-deep ditch, traces of its bank, and pottery from an underyling pit that might help demonstrate its date. Samples were taken for potential C14 and OSL dating.

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The bank of Wat’s Dyke, with wood deliberately placed on it to deter erosion by walkers. On the right (south), the path heads towards Erddig Hall. To the left (north), the dyke heads towards the promontary where Erdigg Castle was built in the late 11th century.

What I failed to do in the previous blog post is to include photographs that inspire observations, taken from either side of the boundary immediately to the north of Erddig Hall. Here are some points:

This part of Wat’s Dyke has no mention or signage in the literature or maps for Erddig Hall National Trust proerty: this is a pity. Erddig’s National Trust website still favours the old-fashioned pre-Hayes and Malim view that Wat’s Dyke is earlier than Offa’s Dye, stating: “constructed in the 8th century, it predates its larger cousin Offa’s Dyke, acting as a 40-mile defensive linear earthwork in the form of a bank and with on the western side.”

The northern fence-line is really useful for photography and visual observation of the dyke.

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Likewise, just as to the north of the fence, the wooden steps rising up the wooden bank, help to pick out the bank for visitors.

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N. of the NT fence-line, this panorama shot shows the dyke looking north. The path on the far left is the historic route up from the Clywedog to the Hall, the middle path follows the ditch of the dyke, and the child is standing on top of the bank. The far-right path cuts through the bank.

Now that CPAT have dug close by, and the monument is so prominent, I remain hopefully that better heritage interpretation is afforded to this important early medieval monument at Erdigg and elsewhere.

References

Hayes, L. and Malim, T. 2008, The date and nature of Wat’s Dyke: a reassessment in the light of recent investigations at Gobowen, Shropshire, in S Crawford and H Hamerow (eds), Anglo-Saxon Stud Archaeol Hist 15, 147–79.

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