One year ago, the Trefonen Rural Protection Group and I had a special public event planned – Special Offa – Communities and Offa’s Dyke. On 4 April 2020, over 100 attendees were set to enjoy a morning of talks in Trefonen Village Hall, while the afternoon would consist of a walking tour around the village and along Offa’s Dyke. The event was to be supported by University of Chester postgraduate researchers Pauline Clarke and Liam Delaney.
Yet, because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, I had to rapidly convert the event to a digital set of talks via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and with The Special Offa Tragical History Virtual Tour, culminating in a #SpecialOffa Archaeos0up YouTube live event. So, with the help of Dr Kara Critchell and ArchaeoSoup, the event became a digital success when the real-world event couldn’t take place. While I’ve subsequently kept promoting Offa’s Dyke and Wat’s Dyke and the Anglo-Welsh borderland via digital means over the last year, no further real-world events have taken place.
So, when Rob Dingle – the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail Officer – invited me to participate in a series of short videos commissioned with funding from Natural Resources Wales to promote heritage and tourism along the line of the trail, I saw another opportunity to raise awareness, appreciation and understanding of the late 8th century linear earthwork and encourage visitors after the pandemic lockdowns cease. Other videos will feature discussions of the natural environment and landscape along the trail to be encountered by walkers and other visitors, but Rob wanted me to try and explain the Dyke itself. So at four locations north and south of the Clun Valley, I spent a day in late March being recorded by Mother Goose Films.
First we went to Newcastle on Clun, then up to Springhill Farm. The third and fourth locations were at either end of Llanfair Hill further south.
In each location, I attempted to explain the structure and character of the monument and something of its landscape context, significance and function. I addressed its varied levels of survival and the threats affecting its future. I also took the opportunity to explain the rationale and activities of the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory: the research network set up to foster research and dialogue regarding the academic research, heritage conservation, management and interpretation of the linear monuments of the Anglo-Welsh borderlands, including the website, events and the diamond open-access academic publication: the Offa’s Dyke Journal.
Also don’t forget you can download for free the new book Public Archaeologies of Frontiers and Borderlands.
Above are 4 images of me in action taken by Rob. Thanks to Mother Goose’s Lizzy and Robin and to Rob for this great opportunity. Beyond all else, it was an amazing day to get out and about!