Ancient Monuments

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Wat's Dyke: 365m long section, extending from 45m north east of Gate House on Shrewsbury Road

A Scheduled Monument in Oswestry, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.8538 / 52°51'13"N

Longitude: -3.0441 / 3°2'38"W

OS Eastings: 329789.874499

OS Northings: 328987.796683

OS Grid: SJ297289

Mapcode National: GBR 73.SC1H

Mapcode Global: WH89X.6JPK

Entry Name: Wat's Dyke: 365m long section, extending from 45m north east of Gate House on Shrewsbury Road

Scheduled Date: 25 March 1937

Last Amended: 28 January 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020618

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33875

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


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of part of the
boundary known as Wat's Dyke. This section runs for 365m from the southern
end of Laburnum Drive to a point 45m north east of Gate House on
Shrewsbury Road. Throughout this section the Dyke has been incorporated
into private gardens. The earthwork bank was constructed along the crest
of a natural terrace known as Shelf Bank. The defensive bank is now about
0.8m high, on average, and about 4m wide at the base. The terrace slopes
steeply down to the west and is about 5m high. At the base of the terrace
a ditch was made about 3.5m wide. This is now largely infilled, which has
protected the soils at the bottom of the original defensive earthwork. At
the southern end of this section the bank and ditch have been cut into by
the excavation of a level platform for a new house and garden. Lying 10m
to the north and 500m to the south of this section are further
sections of Wat's Dyke, which are the subject of separate schedulings.

All fence posts, telegraph poles, concrete bases for garden sheds and
greenhouses and the surfaces of garden paths 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.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 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 late 8th century Offa's Dyke, although
it fulfilled the same purpose. 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 Wales. The line of the Dyke
has been shown to mark a division between hidated (Land 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 365m
long section of Wat's Dyke, 45m north east of Gate House, survives as a
standing earthwork bank and traces of a ditch on the western side of the
terrace, known as Shelf Bank. Soils in the buried ditch and in the base of
the bank will contain valuable evidence for the landscape at the time of
the Dyke's construction and the methods by which it was built.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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