Ancient Monuments

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Wat's Dyke: 375m long section immediately south of Middleton Road and west of Laburnum Drive

A Scheduled Monument in Oswestry, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.8569 / 52°51'24"N

Longitude: -3.0458 / 3°2'44"W

OS Eastings: 329681.178366

OS Northings: 329336.554771

OS Grid: SJ296293

Mapcode National: GBR 73.S4N3

Mapcode Global: WH89X.5GW5

Entry Name: Wat's Dyke: 375m long section immediately south of Middleton Road and west of Laburnum Drive

Scheduled Date: 25 March 1937

Last Amended: 28 January 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020619

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33876

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 earthwork and buried remains of part of the
boundary known as Wat's Dyke. This section runs for 375m from Middleton
Road, southwards to a point 10m south of the car park area for the
Evangelical Church at the southern end of Laburnum Drive. The southern
section runs partly through private gardens to the west of Laburnam Drive.
The earthwork bank, about 4m wide at the base, was constructed along the
crest of a natural terrace known as Shelf Bank, and a ditch about 3.5m
wide, was dug on the western side. The remains of this defensive work are
about 18m wide in all. At the northern end of this section of the Dyke the
remains have been severely damaged by road construction and excavations
for the houses and their gardens to the east of Brookhouse Road. A further
section of the Dyke, 10m to the south of this section, is the subject of a
separate scheduling.

All fence posts, telegraph poles and garden sheds 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 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 known as 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 land (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

This 375m long section of Wat's Dyke immediately south of Middleton Road
and west of Laburnum Drive survives as a low bank overlooking a natural
terrace with traces of a ditch at the base of the slope on the western
side. It has a high public profile in the central area of a large housing
development and it will provide a source for recreational enjoyment and
educational value for the surrounding population. Soils at the base of the
bank and in the bottom of the buried ditch will contain evidence for the
management of the landscape when the Dyke was built and also evidence for
the layout and construction of the defences.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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