Ancient Monuments

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Wat's Dyke: section 350m long, 540m east of Weston Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Oswestry Rural, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.8462 / 52°50'46"N

Longitude: -3.0407 / 3°2'26"W

OS Eastings: 330003.309784

OS Northings: 328140.62229

OS Grid: SJ300281

Mapcode National: GBR 73.SRW7

Mapcode Global: WH89X.8Q8D

Entry Name: Wat's Dyke: section 350m long, 540m east of Weston Farm

Scheduled Date: 4 February 1937

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020562

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33870

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Oswestry Rural

Built-Up Area: Croesowallt

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Oswestry Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes a section of the earthwork and buried remains of
part of the boundary known as Wat's Dyke, which runs for 350m along the
eastern side of Maesbury Road. It consists of a low bank, up to 0.8m high,
and 5m wide at the base, with a ditch on the west side, about 3m wide and
0.9m deep.

There are further sections of the Dyke to the north and south which are
the subject of separate schedulings. All fence posts and telegraph poles
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Wat's Dyke is a linear earthwork boundary marker and defensive rampart. It
runs for about 60km from Basingwerk, on the Dee estuary, southwards to
Maesbury, near Oswestry. It consists of a large ditch, 5m wide and 2m
deep, with a bank on the eastern side. The bank is 10m wide at the base,
on average, and its original height was about 2.5m. Wat's Dyke runs
roughly parallel to Offa's Dyke which lies to the west, sometimes only
500m away. Both dykes run along the borders between England and Wales, and
it is clear that both were constructed to defend land on the eastern side
from incursions coming from the west.

The earthwork bank and ditch ran without interruption except where the
course of a stream or river cut through it. The date of construction has
not been accurately determined, but it is considered that it was built at
an earlier date than the parallel late 8th century Offa's Dyke, although
it fulfilled the same purpose. The Dyke forms a boundary between lands
firmly in control of Anglo-Saxon overlords and lands more recently taken
from the native Britains of this area by the English. Subsequently land to
the west of the Dyke became part of what is now known as Wales. The line
of the Dyke has been shown to mark a division between hidated (assessed
for taxation on the basis of the Anglo-Saxon units known as `hides') and
unhidated lands (land under a different system of government) at the time
of the Domesday records. This suggests that the Dyke was constructed
before the `hide' system was put into practice during the reign of King
Offa of Mercia. The Dyke was probably built during the period of expansion
of the kingdom of Mercia before the accession of Offa, possibly during the
reign of Aethelbald (AD 716-757). All known lengths of Wat's Dyke where
significant archaeological deposits are likely to survive are considered
to be nationally important.

This 350m long section of Wat's Dyke, 540m east of Weston Farm survives
well and is well-maintained. It has a high public profile and will provide
an opportunity for education and recreational interest for the community.
Soils buried beneath the bank and in the infill of the ditch will provide
evidence for the construction of the Dyke and the landscape at the time of
its construction and abandonment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Worthington, M, Wat's Dyke, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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