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Wat's Dyke:80m long section and adjacent cultivation terraces 540m east of Oswestry Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Oswestry, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.8617 / 52°51'42"N

Longitude: -3.0472 / 3°2'50"W

OS Eastings: 329591.30349

OS Northings: 329874.245436

OS Grid: SJ295298

Mapcode National: GBR 73.RQ9S

Mapcode Global: WH89X.5B6G

Entry Name: Wat's Dyke:80m long section and adjacent cultivation terraces 540m east of Oswestry Castle

Scheduled Date: 14 April 1977

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020564

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33877

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Oswestry

Built-Up Area: Croesowallt

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Oswestry Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a part of the
boundary known as Wat's Dyke. This section runs from the southern edge of
the area of the former railway marshalling yard which lies to the west of
the former warehouses, southwards to the northern garden hedge of the
housing complex to the south of Shelf Bank. Adjacent to this section, on
the eastern side, there are two terraces formed out of the northern slopes
of the hill which appear to be broad lynchets or cultivation terraces.
These are 110m long, running east to west, and about 30m-50m apart. The
date of their formation is not certain. Also associated is an earthwork
hollow way running down from the crest of the hill about 30m west of the
triangulation point westwards to meet, but not break, the line of the
Dyke.

The bank of Wat's Dyke in this section survives as a low mound, 0.4m high
and spreads to 12m wide at the base. To the west are traces of a ditch 4m
wide which has been used as a trackway after it was infilled by erosion in
past centuries. The remains have been truncated by a drainage ditch and
the levelling for the railway yards at the northern end. They have also
been truncated by hedge building and the creation of a footpath to access
the rear of the houses whose gardens occupy the area to the south.

All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 and defensive rampart. It runs
for about 60km from Basingwerk, on the Dee estuary, southwards to Maesbury
Marsh, 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 border between England and Wales, and it is clear
that both dykes 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 Offa's Dyke, although it fulfilled the
same function. The Dyke forms a boundary between lands firmly in control
of the Anglo-Saxon overlords and lands more recently taken from the native
Britains 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 known to survive are considered to be nationally important. This
stretch of Wat's Dyke is reasonably well-preserved and has a high public
profile on a well-used public footpath. It will provide a source for
recreational enjoyment and educational interest for the community. Soils
buried beneath the bank and in the bottom of the infilled ditch will
contain evidence for the management and character of the landscape at the
time of its construction. Further information on the cultivation terraces
and their relationship to the Dyke will be preserved.

Source: Historic England

Sources

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

Source: Historic England

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