In July 2021 the Offa's Dyke Association and Centre based in Knighton will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of Offa's Dyke Path National Trail. Established itself some 52 years ago the Association is the friends group for both the Trail and Offas Dyke the ancient monument. It is a membership-based charity dedicated to theDykes preservation, educational and community engagement, as well as the interests of walkers using the Trail.
Some 80 miles of Britain's longest monument - an earthwork Dyke was built in the late 8th century by the Anglo-Saxon, King of Mercia, Offa. Stretching from Flintshire in the north to Gloucestershire in the south, today some 80 miles of the monument survive in varying states of preservation and condition. Offas Dyke Path itself runs for 177 miles between Prestatyn in the north and Chepstow in the south and for long sections it shadows the monument, notably in Shropshire, Powys and in the Wye Valley in Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire.
Centuries of gradual benign neglect have left their mark on the fabric of the Dyke but in recent years it has sustained some deliberate and irreversible acts of damage at various locations along its length. Owing to the scheduled monument existing largely within private land, it falls upon its landowners and local communities to keep it maintained. All too often, it falls prey to property developments and casual land-grabs. The irreversible damage that is carried out, often goes unnoticed unless sighted by passers-by.
(above) the 25m damage at Chrik where Offa's Dyke monument has been levelled. This site has been damaged twice in 2013 & 2020 both times failed to prosecute.
In consultation with CADW, the National Trail unit and English Heritage, the Offa's Dyke Rescue Fund will seek to make purchases of parts of the Dyke considered to be 'under threat' from sustained damage or gross negligence. The fund will also be made available to the Cadw and Historic England sponsored Offas Dyke Conservation Project Officer to pay for proactive management interventions. These will include the removal of overgrown scrub vegetation and, where necessary, essential repairs to the Dyke in order to save Britains longest ancient monument for posterity.
In support of our campaign the following said...
Chairman of the Offa's Dyke Association Dave McGlade said:
Offa's Dyke is a sensitive archaeological landscape. It is also a Scheduled Monument, protected by statute law, and deserves to be treated with the utmost respect. However, when compared with other well managed and cared for UK Scheduled Monuments, such as Hadrian's Wall, Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Sites, it has a lot of catching up to do. The 2017 Offa's Dyke Conservation Management Plan condition survey was a wake-up call to us all because it revealed that only 8.7% of the Dyke is in favourable condition. Thanks to decades of damage and erosion the archaeological record, unnoticed and unrecorded, is literally tumbling down the slope. The Offa's Dyke Association, in partnership with Cadw, Historic England and Shropshire County Council, has embarked upon an ambitious Conservation Management Plan project and is determined to see more of the monument brought back into favourable condition. That will take time, in all probability many years, and the Offa's Dyke Rescue Fund gives everyone who cares for our shared heritage the opportunity to contribute to the Dyke's well-being. The Fund will be especially important when resources are required to help remedy situations when only an urgent response is required.
As the MP for Clwyd South in North Wales, through which Offas Dyke passes, I applaud the commitment of the Offas Dyke Association to maintaining and supporting this extraordinary and much loved national monument, particularly through the Associations Offas Dyke Rescue Fund. The importance of this monument cannot be overstated, not least in its exceptional length of 177 miles and its status as a protected nature reserve. It is wonderful to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Offas Dyke path and the huge pleasure it gives to many thousands of walkers every year.
Historic England said:
We are pleased to support the Offas Dyke Association Rescue Fund. For fifty years the dedicated staff and Trustees of the ODA have done wonderful work in informing local people and visitors from all over the world about this unique and internationally significant monument in the Welsh Borders. This new initiative represents that continuing commitment. The ODA works with many partners to maintain the Dyke in as good a condition as possible so that future generations can continue to learn about and enjoy the Dyke. This is important work because Offas Dyke is the largest, most impressive, and most complete purpose built early medieval monument in Western Europe. It is the largest civil engineering project ever undertaken by an Anglo-Saxon state, and the most impressive Anglo-Saxon monument to now survive in the UK. Its exact length is unclear but it was a continuous linear bank and ditch for well over 100km. Offas Dyke was built in the later 8th century to define the cultural and political border between the Anglian King Offas midland-centred kingdom of Mercia and the native British peoples in what is now Wales. Offa's Dyke directly represents a key period of Western European history when processes including migration, cultural interaction, and territorial competition resulted in the tangible beginnings of the English and Welsh nations. The Dyke is all the more important as little visible evidence of the peoples and historical processes of the early medieval period now remains. The Offas Dyke Association Rescue Fund is one of the initiatives that will celebrate the work of the ODA in this its 50th year.
Artist for anniversary exhibition, Dan Llywelyn Hall said:
The upkeep and duty of care to Offa's Dyke is now of critical importance. In light of repeated vandalism and ignorance of its purpose, we must defend the monument - the physical embodiment of 'border culture' and strive to educate through art, stories and song.
Iolo Williams BBC presenter and naturalist said:
'As someone who lives just a stones throw from Offas Dyke, I really appreciate its importance to local people and visitors alike. The Dyke is hugely important historically and traverses some of the most stunning landscapes in Britain. Its vital that its preserved and restored for future generations to enjoy.'
HERE ARE THE REWARDS...
REWARD (ABOVE): STEVE BRADLEY STAINED GLASS
REWARD (ABOVE):WALKING WITH OFFA (HARDBACK) 'DELUXE'
REWARD (ABOVE): BRIAN JONES 'BRYN OFFA' PRINT
REWARD (ABOVE): LIZ NEAL PRINT
REWARD (ABOVE): BOB GUY 'OFFA' PRINT
PLEASE NOTE : THERE IS A 'JUST GIVING' PAGE THAT IS RUNNING CONCURRENTLY WITH THIS CAMPAIGN. THIS CROWDFUNDING PAGE PERMITS FOR 'REWARDS' WHICH GIVE A CONTRIBUTION TO THE FUND IN EXCHANGE FOR A PHYSICAL ITEM. (ILLUSTRATED ABOVE)
BOTH FUNDS WILL BE ADDED TO FORM THE TOTAL FUND.