Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Offa’s Dyke Path, artist Dan Llwyelyn Hall conducted a project in collaboration with a series of renowned poets to create art in response to the Offa’s Dyke Path and its landscape. Hall’s project was show-cased at the Offa’s Dyke Centre in July 2021. From this event onwards, his book has been on sale, compiling his art and the poetry. Here’s Dan speaking and his logo seeing him facing off with King Offa from the coin utilised as the logo of the Offa’s Dyke Association.
The project culminated at an open-air event at Valle Crucis Abbey in December 2021 where poetry and music was accompanied by images from the opening of the path and Dan’s art projected onto the ruins of this Cistercian monastery. Images here supplied courtesy of Dave McGlade:
Dan’s YouTube channel features a host of videos relating to the project.
And ‘Cyndyllan on the Rocks’ by Geraint Jones filmed at Llanymynech Hill:
Incidentally, here’s my video from Llanymynech reading out the poem appended to a waymarker on the Offa’s Dyke Path:
The evening of 11 November saw me invited by the Trefonen Rural Protection Group to be an opening speaker and to introduce Dan’s talk about Walking with Offa at Trefonen Village Hall. This was an apposite location, close to the very line of Offa’s Dyke.
It was a poignant moment for me to be there, not only because I was delighted and honoured to be able to talk and introduce Dan’s presentation, to be there on 11th November, but also because two-and-a-half years after the ‘Special Offa’ event had planned for this venue supported by Andy Heaton and the Trefonen Rural Protection Group and the Trefonen Heritage and Wildlife Group.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, however, the event was transferred from the Village Hall at Trefonen to become an online ‘Tragical History Tour’ and a series of online presentations, curated on the then-brand-new Archaeodeath YouTube channel.
Check out the videos from the 2020 events here:
This was arguably the first major heritage and archaeology event in the UK to be transferred online rather than postponed or cancelled because of the global Coronavirus emergency. I published my reflections on this event and its context in the Offa’s Dyke Journal volume 2 for 2020 in an article entitled ‘Collaboratory, Coronavirus and the Colonial Countryside’.
Delighted to be back in Trefonen, in my talk I introduced the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory, the Offa’s Dyke Journal, the ‘What’s Wat’s Dyke? comic, and the importance but challenges of investigating the archaeology, history and heritage of Wat’s Dyke, Offa’s Dyke and their landscape contexts from prehistory to the present day. I then introduced Dan who gave a fascinating and far-ranging presentation regarding the Walking with Offa project and his other art over the years.
Dan has articulated clearly the power of art in collapsing time, using art created in moments to transcend space and millennia. Together with the installations of pair of striking signposts at Trefonen, art about Offa’s Dyke and its landscape, and art in that landscape, together help to engage audiences and encourage them to learn and reflect on the story of the Welsh Marches.
Here is my TikTok about the evening: