Building on my recent publication on the social memories of Offa’s Dyke in the contemporary landscapes, as revealed by place-names and their material dimensions – signs – I here present a case study. In the ‘Living after Offa‘ article, I identified a particular cluster of place-names in Powys, close to the modern Anglo-Welsh border. These comprise a series of house-names and street-names in the Welsh village of Four Crosses, and the nearby Parc Busnes Clawdd Offa/Offa’s Dyke Business Park. In the article that is published, I acknowledge Giles Carey who generously provided an image of the latter. But subsequently, I’ve had the opportunity to visit and photograph all the signs.
First up, here are the bilingual signs for the business park, together with a coin of Offa as the ‘O’ of ‘Offa’. This image thus links the park to the identity of Offa as a Mercian ruler and dyke-builder, but also to the Offa’s Dyke Association and the Offa’s Dyke Path running close by. Combining these associations, the use of ‘Offa’ embodies multiple allusions to the borderland location of the business park: open to customers on either side of the current border.
Next, we have the village of Four Crosses, through which the surviving line of the Dyke can be traced. Here, I visited the street-names: obviously I don’t want to invade the privacy of private dwellings by photographing the signs and names of individual residences.
Individually, these naming practices tell us little other than idiosyncratic and generic references to the 8th-century linear earthwork in the proximity. Yet by mapping their locations, and looking at trends in their overall distribution, we can discern how naming inhabited landscapes after Offa is a discernible and unique dimension of borderland communities operating in the monument’s long shadow.