Super dyke dating
Among those duties was one to perform ‘bridge-work and fortress-work’, and this was probably the mechanism whereby a large work force was assembled to do the necessary aligning, quarrying, ditch-digging, soil and turf and stone mounding.
This was carried out across a terrain replete with high moorland, steep-sided valleys, river-crossings and hilltops along what has become the borderland between England and Wales. Firstly, it served as a deterrent: it demonstrated the might of Mercian mobilisation – any kingdom with the resources to create such a massive work could surely crush any would-be invaders.
Another remarkable thing about Offa’s Dyke is the way in which so much of it has survived: a long-distance trail, the Offa’s Dyke Path, follows much of its course, especially in the historic counties of Gloucestershire, Radnorshire, Shropshire and Montgomeryshire.It is, however, the context of Offa’s Dyke’s building that provides most relevance to life today, because there are some remarkable similarities between events in the world of late eighth-century England and today’s Europe: warfare at the peripheries of the continent, mass-migration and, above all, Britain’s relationship with Europe were matters of considerable concern as the expansionary Kingdom of Mercia was trying to dominate all the other kingdoms and peoples of England (and especially the remaining powers of Northumbria, East Anglia, Kent and Wessex) during the reigns of Offa (757–796) and Coenwulf (796–821).