Ancient Monuments

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Offa's Dyke: section in Shorncliff Wood including the Devil's Pulpit, 790m south west of Sheepcot

A Scheduled Monument in Tidenham, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.6888 / 51°41'19"N

Longitude: -2.6636 / 2°39'49"W

OS Eastings: 354221.109

OS Northings: 199105.8438

OS Grid: ST542991

Mapcode National: GBR JM.4YGD

Mapcode Global: VH87F.ST66

Entry Name: Offa's Dyke: section in Shorncliff Wood including the Devil's Pulpit, 790m south west of Sheepcot

Scheduled Date: 14 March 1938

Last Amended: 3 September 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020604

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33480

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Tidenham

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Tidenham St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a section of Offa's
Dyke in Shorncliff Wood, 790m south west of Sheepcot. This section
of the Dyke is in the care of Secretary of State. Offa's Dyke generally
consists of a bank up to 3.5m high with an intermittent ditch to the
west and quarry pits to the east. In places Offa's Dyke was strengthened by
additional earthworks, namely a berm between the bank and ditch and a
counterscarp bank on the lip of the ditch.

This 731m long section of the Dyke is visible as a bank with a berm taking the
form of a deliberate, man-made break in slope to the west and a series of
contiguous quarry pits to the east. At the northern end of the section is the
area known as the Devil's Pulpit, formed by a pillar of rock thought to have
been left following 19th century quarrying to the west of the Dyke, and which
is included in the area of protection. The section of the Dyke immediately to
the east of this pillar has since become a viewing point over Tintern Abbey
and the River Wye. The bank of the Dyke in this section is up to 10m wide at
its base, stands to between 2m and 4m high on its western face, and is up to
1.5m high on its eastern face. The berm to the west is up to 2m wide, while to
the east of the bank is a series of contiguous quarry pits from which material
was excavated during the construction of the monument, and which is up to 8m
wide and between 0.7m and 1.8m deep. The monument closely follows the line of
a steep scarp slope which develops into the Plumweir cliffs at the southern
end of the section.

All sign posts, marker posts, fence posts and the area of experimental path
surfacing to the north of the Devil's Pulpit 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

Offa's Dyke is the longest linear earthwork in Britain, approximately 220km,
running from Treuddyn, near Mold, to Sedbury on the Severn estuary. It was
constructed towards the end of the eighth century AD by the Mercian king Offa,
and is believed to have formed a long-lived territorial, and possibly
defensive, boundary between the Saxon kingdom of Mercia and the Welsh
The Dyke is not continuous and consists of a number of discrete lengths
separated by gaps of up to 23km. It is clear from the nature of certain
sections that differences in the scale and character of adjoining portions
were the result of separate gangs being employed on different lengths. Where
possible, natural topographic features such as slopes or rivers were utilised,
and the form of Offa's Dyke is therefore clearly related to the topography.
Along most of its length it consists of a bank with a ditch to the west.
Excavation has indicated that at least some lengths of the bank had a vertical
outer face of either laid stonework or turf revetment. The ditch generally
seems to have been used to provide most of the bank material, although there
is also evidence in some locations of shallow quarries. In places, a berm
divides the bank and ditch, and a counterscarp bank may be present on the lip
of the ditch.
Offa's Dyke now survives in various states of preservation in the form of
earthworks and, where sections have been levelled and infilled, as buried
features. Although some sections of the frontier system no longer survive
visibly, sufficient evidence does exist for its position to be accurately
identified throughout most of its length. In view of its contribution towards
the study of early medieval territorial patterns, all sections of Offa's Dyke
exhibiting significant archaeological remains are considered worthy of

This section of Offa's Dyke in Shorncliff Wood, 790m south west of
Sheepcot, survives well, and illustrates the use of natural topography to
enhance the form and visibility of the Dyke. The bank will have preserved
part of the original ground surface, predating the construction of the
monument, and along with the berm to the west and quarries to the east,
will contain environmental evidence in the form of organic remains which
will relate both to the Dyke and to the landscape within which it was
constructed. The bank will also contain evidence relating to the methods
of construction of the monument and the building materials used.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hoyle, J, Vallender, J, Offa's Dyke in Gloucestershire: Management Survay, (1997)

Source: Historic England

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