On the line of the Offa’s Dyke Path to the north of Penycloddiau hillfort, a highlight of the Clwydian Range, one encounters a memorial of two components: one wood, one inscribed slate. It is a present-day memorial situated in a landscape location unlike any other I’ve encountered.
The stile upon the fence dividing the hillfort from the lower ground is a memorial in itself, inscribed: ‘ATR 1905-1991’ on its north-facing (downslope) cross-beam.
Next to it, loose and propped against the fence, is a tall, slender, polished slate memorial stone, inscribed in the Welsh language in remembrance of the same individual:
Er cof am
Offa – Ramblers
diogelu Cymru wledig.
According to Coflein this translates as ‘Conserver of the Countryside; Offa’s Dyke Trail; Ramblers Holidays; Council for the Protection of Rural Wales’.
I enquired about this to Rob Dingle, the Offa’s Dyke National Trail Officer. He contacted Denbighshire County Council’s AONB Area Manager, David Shiel, who generously confirmed that Arthur Roberts MBE was a ‘leading member of the Ramblers Association in the Midlands’ as well as with the CPRW (Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales) and other countryside bodies.
Evidently from the inscription, the Offa’s Dyke Path was itself one of the foci of his energies, and upon it his dual memorial is situated. Moreover, it has a broader context, not only comprising of multiple prehistoric hillforts and a cairn, but a walker’s cairn on the summit within the Bronze Age cairn. This itself has a memorial dimension focusing on its restoration.
The Offa’s Dyke Path thus incorporates monuments to its supporters and its own history, and the conservation efforts along its line.
What is striking to me, however, it Roberts’ memorial’s precarity. The stile will have to be replaced at some point to improve access, with a gate as elsewhere I suspect. Moreover, the stone itself is not earthfast, and is unusual as a product of a memorial mason placed in the landscape but ostensibly unfixed. It has evidently lasted over 28 years, but for how much longer before this commemorative stone and its stile will themselves ‘go out in style’?