Yesterday, I participated in the celebrations of the Offa’s Dyth Path’s 50th anniversary by leading the first of the day’s events at the Offa’s Dyke Centre and Offa’s Dyke Path yesterday. This is part of broader efforts to promote tourism and heritage interpretation of this monument and its landscape. The event was a commemorative walk from the Centre up to Panpunton Hill. I enjoyed the company of fellow walkers, I gave a short talk about the significance and function of Offa’s Dyke as part of the early medieval story of this island and its significance today. It was a real privilege to follow in the footsteps of the opening walk by local children and Lord Hunt, who then opening the Offa’s Dyke Trail on 10 July 1971.
Subsequently, I got to listen to some wonderful speeches, the unveiling of a new stained glass commemorative panel, the performance of specially commissioned music on the harp, specially commissioned poetry, and a chance to see Dan Llewelyn Hall’s art exhibition ‘Walking with Offa’. Outside, the ‘Tree Hunter’ had a display.
The day culminated in a gathering at Pinner’s Hole where there were songs, more poetry readings, speeches and the unveiling of the new plaque on the commemorative stone, joining the two which opening the park and trail in 1971, this new one marking the 50th anniversary celebrations.
Of greatest significance for me, I had the opportunity to view the newly designed exhibition at the Offa’s Dyke Centre, in which I’m proud to say some of my photographs and ideas are included. I even made an appearance via my YouTube channel video on Offa’s Dyke, via the widescreen in the exhibition!
I was particularly pleased to see that Wat’s Dyke, as well as Offa’s Dyke, were represented in the exhibition for the first time. More on the detail of the exhibition in a future post.
It was a great day showcasing artistic and academic responses and engagements with Offa’s Dyke, Wat’s Dyke and the landscape and history of the Anglo-Welsh borderlands. Organiser Hall argued this constituted a celebration of a shared ‘border culture’ between communities in England and Wales. It certainly was striking and memorable to participate an engagement with an early medieval linear earthwork that was social, performative and celebrational, rather than my usual solitary encounters with this giant monument.