The Great Offa’s Dyke Hoax is the story of misinterpretation and over imaginative archaeological minds of the past.
Ladies and gentlemen, seekers of truth and explorers of the human story, I invite you to accompany me on a voyage of intellectual discovery that will peel back the layers of historical perception. In the realm of “The Great Offa’s Dyke Hoax,” we shall transcend mere interpretation and confront the profound implications of misread landscapes.
Our narrative unfurls amidst the whispers of history, where Offa’s Dyke once stood as an emblem of division, a bulwark against the wild tides of the past. But let us pause to question this narrative as we stand at the crossroads of knowledge. The relics of Sir Cyril Fox’s magnum opus, “Offa’s Dyke – A Field Survey of the Western-Works of Mercia in the Seventh and Eight Centuries A.D.,” crumble before the scrutiny of LiDAR, an oracle of precision, revealing a landscape adorned with gaps, chasms of forgotten interpretations.
The spectacle that unfurls before our eyes is a symphony of satellites and lasers, revealing Offa’s Dyke as a palimpsest of history, a record of assumptions etched upon the earth’s canvas. As we soar above the dyke, propelled by modern technology, anomalies emerge like constellations in the night sky, challenging our perception of time and narrative. A chorus of questions echoes through the valleys, reverberating against the walls of ignorance that have stood for too long.
Behold, over two hundred apertures puncture the armour of tradition, casting doubt on the notion of an impregnable barrier. Once carved in stone, our conclusions now crumble like sandcastles before the tide of truth. The dyke, once hailed as an impenetrable defence against the tides of history, now whispers tales of openness, of movement, of a landscape shaped by myriad forces beyond the grasp of our historical imagination.
Yet, fear not, for this revelation is not one of despair but of enlightenment. The echoes of past misinterpretations beckon us to usher in a new epoch of understanding. The structure that once stood as a division symbol now binds us in a shared quest for knowledge. Once dismissed as blemishes, the gaps become portals to explore, challenge, and comprehend. Let us embrace this moment, not with disillusionment, but with the fervour of intellectual vigour, for this is the essence of true discovery.
In this realm of “The Great Offa’s Dyke Hoax,” we stand on the precipice of a new dawn, poised to transcend the confines of the past and journey into the uncharted landscapes of the human story. Let curiosity guide our steps, and let the truth be our beacon as we navigate this wondrous terrain of history and imagination.
Part Five & Conclusion
According to Historic England – Offa’s Dyke is the longest linear earthwork in Britain, approximately 220km, running from Treuddyn, near Mold, to Sedbury on the Severn estuary.
According to Historic England – 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 kingdoms. 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 protection.
In the intricate tapestry of history, Offa’s Dyke stands as a perplexing enigma, confounding the intellects of archaeologists and historians. Its fragmented form, varying irregularly across its length, eludes our grasp, leaving us to grapple with its secrets. Today, we embark on a pioneering endeavour – the first comprehensive LiDAR survey of this ancient earthwork, etching each meter of its existence onto the canvas of the landscape.
The consequences of this endeavour ripple through time, altering the essence of our understanding. A monument once veiled in uncertainty now stands on the precipice of transformation, poised to rewrite the pages of history. These ramifications, far-reaching and profound, echo into the decades that stretch ahead.
Yet, to embark upon this journey of revelation, a foundation of comprehension must first be laid. Our expedition commences with a deliberate laying of groundwork – a trilogy of chapters designed to elucidate the intricacies of Offa’s Dyke, to offer insight into the vista ahead.
To chart this expedition successfully, we must weave the threads of history into a coherent narrative. Linking arms with the insights of past custodians, we seek an orchestration that harmonizes LiDAR’s revelations, the eye from the sky, the sketches of antiquated OS maps, and the whispers of excavations. This harmonious synthesis necessitates the creation of a grid – a web of precision – that unveils the complexities of Offa’s Dyke’s genesis.
In this pursuit, we aren’t merely scrutinizing the artefact but unravelling the fabric of time itself. The past and the present converge in a dance of enlightenment, inviting us to redraw the boundaries of comprehension. Embark with us on this intellectual odyssey, where the very essence of history is transformed, and the corridors of inquiry are illuminated with new fervour.
Henceforth, our approach to Offa’s Dyke assumes a structure that mirrors the very essence of the monument itself – a fluid journey that embraces the intricacies rather than conforms to traditional molds. The dyke, once perceived as an indivisible entity, now stands divided into five sections, aptly christened from A to E. In this departure from convention, we honor the pursuit of knowledge, acknowledging that unconventional paths often lead to profound discoveries.
South to North, these sections traverse the landscape, not adhering to uniformity but shaped by the organic junctures of the dyke. This paradigm shift in naming is a testament to our commitment to the pursuit of truth – a choice rooted in archaeology’s essence, where information reigns supreme, unbounded by preconceived notions.
Within these sections, we weave a tapestry of context that spans epochs. The fabric of understanding is enriched with the threads of history, meticulously gathered from various sources. The cartography of discovery finds expression in threefold – the timeless OS 1800 Map edition, the spatial insights of Google Earth Maps adorned with the imprints of Historic England Scheduled Areas and References, and the hallmark of our expedition, the LiDAR maps of unparalleled resolution and interpretive clarity.
Venture with us, dear reader, beyond the physical divisions, and embark upon a mental odyssey that captures the essence of Offa’s Dyke in its entirety. A comprehensive overview, a narrative panorama, awaits within these pages. Here, we dissect the phases of its construction, decipher its purpose, and pave the path to our conclusions. Embrace this expedition, for within its folds lies the transformation of knowledge, the reimagining of history, and the untangling of the mysteries that have lain dormant for centuries.
Offa’s Dyke – Sections
In this First LiDAR survey to be undertaken in Britain, we have found the prevalence of an environment dominated by prehistoric water levels (15 of 39m).
Our Findings and Conclusion
Before we reflect on our findings section by section, it may be beneficial to look at the total statistics for some aspects of Offa’s Dyke, as such details have not been found in our research on this subject.
To illustrate the confusion over Offa’s Dyke and its interpretation, the length of the Dyke is now open to speculation as it has so many gaps. However, English Heritage has it as 82 miles (132 km) from Prestatyn in the north to Sedbury in the South and The Offa’s Footpath Trust – the charity set-up to promote the Dykes footpath suggests 176 miles (283 km) – slightly longer than Scheduled listing route.
While Historic England sits firmly in the middle with 137 miles (220 km) – We will look at Offa’s Dyke as it is commonly portrayed as a coast-to-coasts landscape feature covering 283 km (176 miles) from Sedbury Cliffs nr Chepstow to Prestatyn.
Sedbury Cliffs to Monmouth – 17.5 miles (28 Km)
Monmouth to Pandy – 16.75 miles (27 Km)
Pandy to Hay-on-Wye – 17.5 miles (28.2 Km)
Hay to Kington – 14.75 miles (23.3 Km)
Kington to Knighton – 13.5 miles (21.7 Km)
Knighton to Brompton Crossroads – 15 miles (24 Km)
Brompton Cross to Buttington Bridge – 12.3 miles (20 Km)
Buttington Bridge to Llanymynech – 10.5 miles (17 Km)
Llanymynech to Chirk Mill – 14 miles (22.5 Km)
Chirk Mill to Llandegla – 15.5 miles (25.7 Km)
Llandegla to Bodfari – 17.5 miles (28 Km)
Bodfari – Prestatyn – 12 miles (19 Km)
The Total length of Offa’s Dyke (including gaps and missing sections) 279,745m (173.8 miles)
Total length Found (by LiDAR): 95,044m (59.2 miles) – 34% of the entire length
Total length Missing (by LiDAR): 185,476m (114.6 miles) – 66% of the entire length
Total number of Gaps in the Offa’s Dyke – 70
Total number of Scheduled Monuments in Listing: 237
Features (updated 01/01/23)
Within the 59.2 miles of Offa’s Dyke, we have identified – within 200m of the construction:
118 Springs (33 Natural) /Wells/Ponds as specified by the 1800 OS maps series – with Wells and Ponds showing a higher water table in the area of Construction.
303 Quarries / Bell Pits (with mainly Coal extraction in section D of the Survey) including Flint, Lead, Iron and Limestone (Average of 5 Quarries per section)
12 Prehistoric Ancient sites
7 Roman Sites
20% Listed Sections of the Dyke connected to the River Directly
28% Listed Sections of the Dyke Starting or Ending in Paleochannels
Section A – Total 20,201m. 14 Gaps – 6,758m missing (34%)
Section B – Total 110,545m. 10 Gaps – 106,768 missing (97%)
Section C – Total 55,905m. 17 Gaps – 7,990 missing (14%)
Section D – Total 56,369m. 22 Gaps – 29,848 missing (53%)
Section E –Total 36,725m. 7 Gaps – 33,101 missing (90%)
Our findings concluded that these landscape features are much more interesting and complex than the archaeologists currently imagine, as each Section has its individual interest that finally gives us a solution to the construction and functionality of the Dyke.
Section A – Runs around the hills surrounding Chepstow and the River Wye. This Dyke is no boundary or marker as the river would be a better solution to both causes. But what it does show is the connection to Quarries and Roman Roads that would have probably linked to the canal system it inherited from the ancient Dyke builders. These ‘linear earthworks’ were created to assist in trade during both prehistory and later Roman era until the canals dried up when the roads built upon the banks of these Dykes replaced the method of transport
Section B – Shows why the Dyke is not interconnected, as 97% of it is missing, and there is not functionality or design that links together the small portions of Dyke that is in this section.
Section C – Has the least missing sections, yet it still has 14% missing with 17 gaps, indicating that these Dykes are a series of individual trading canals and not a single entity.
Section D – This is a 50/50 series of Dyke to gap ratio, again showing that it is connected to Quarries and Mining, particularly Coal Mining, which was widely used by the Romans.
Section E – Even archaeologists (including Fox) now admit that this is a different series of Dykes (Whitford Dyke) and not part of Offa’s Dyke as its too dysfunctional.
So, we are looking at a series of Dykes built in prehistoric times and then utilised (as we found in the Vallum) by the Romans to service Quarries for Trading purposes.
For more information about British Prehistory and other articles/books, go to our BLOG WEBSITE for daily updates or our VIDEO CHANNEL for interactive media and documentaries. The TRILOGY of books that ‘changed history’ can be found with chapter extracts at DAWN OF THE LOST CIVILISATION, THE STONEHENGE ENIGMA and THE POST-GLACIAL FLOODING HYPOTHESIS. Other associated books are also available such as 13 THINGS THAT DON’T MAKE SENSE IN HISTORY and other ‘short’ budget priced books can be found on our AUTHOR SITE. For active discussion on the findings of the TRILOGY and recent LiDAR investigations that is published on our WEBSITE you can join our FACEBOOK GROUP.
- ASIN : B0BQ9GG5FC
- Publisher : Independently published (17 Dec. 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 447 pages
- ISBN-13 : 979-8370198236
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 2.57 x 22.86 cm