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Offa’s Dyke Path at 50

18 October 2021

Archaeologists discover new stretch of monument designed to impress

Archaeologists have discovered a new stretch of the medieval earthwork running along the English-Welsh border using a mix of modern technology and time-honoured archaeological ground-level observations.

Honorary Professor at Cardiff University Keith Ray and his associates used LiDAR (laser scanning) and drones to discover new sections and refine understanding of known lengths and features.

With such discoveries, the old belief that the dyke never actually stretched from sea to sea (Liverpool Bay in the north and the Severn Estuary in the south), is being replaced by a new vision of a much larger and more important monument.

It is said that long-ruling King Offa of Mercia had the dyke built to protect his kingdom, but the late eighth century defensive structure is without forts or towers.

“We’ve found that it ends, as it begins, with a brilliant flourish. There’s also a wonderful new section where it crosses the river Alyn near Mold. It’s a monument to a vainglorious king who wanted to impress" explained Professor Ray.

Celebrating its 50th year in 2021, Offa’s Dyke Path was one of the first of Britain’s 16 National Trails, a development that began after the second world war as part of a broader government campaign to open up the countryside to the public.

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