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Wat's Dyke / Watt's Dyke

Offa's Dyke is probably much as Offa left it, towards the end of the eighth century, as the boundary between his kingdom of Mercia and the troublesome Welsh, though it may well be that he to some extent availed himself of pre-existing earthworks of unknown age and purpose. Tradition declares that Watt's Dyke was an earlier work of the same king. The two run, more or less parallel, from the Dee in Flintshire, to the mouth of the Wye in Gloucestershire, sometimes as much as 3 miles apart, sometimes as little as 500 yards. Watt's Dyke is a less imposing work than Offa's Dyke, shorter and smaller. Its height is at the most 11 feet, with a fosse of 7 feet in width, and its length about 37 miles.

Wat's Dyke runs more or less parallel to Offa's Dyke at unequal distances, varying from five hundred yards in some places to three miles in others. It is popularly called Clawdd Offa, and, especially on the north of Wrexham, it has been often confounded with its more famous neighbour. Neither of the two dykes coincides with any existing boundaries. They seldom separate estates or parishes, a circumstance which seems to confirm the notion that their origin was a military one. The completion also of a line of defence by a second line, overlapping the first for twenty miles, can be easily understood. But it is difficult to imagine why two civil boundaries should have been drawn alongside each other so close together and in such a manner.

Offa's Dyke is about three times as long as Wat's Dyke, which commences in the parish of Oswestry and ends at Basingwerk, near Holywell. This second dyke, which is equal in depth to Offa's, runs by Old Oswestry to Gobowen; from thence it passes on the east side of Brynkinallt; and after crossing the Dee near Nant y Belan, it proceeds through Wynnstay Park to Erddig. It continues from Erddig by " The Court" and the new burial ground to the Great Western Railway station ; from which point we have traced it to-day to Ty Gwyn and Gwersyllt, where it crosses the railway and the river Alun, and is afterwards carried on along the high ground of Bryn Alun and Bradley. It then strikes across under Rhydin and Caer Estyn to Hope Church, where we have also seen it; and continues up the valley of the Alun, crossing out beyond Mold, towards Northop; and it afterwards runs in a more westerly direction, until it finally arrives at Basingwerk. The distance from Oswestry to Basingwerk in a direct line is about thirty miles, but as there is a considerable bend in the course of the whole dyke its length must be some miles more.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:07:36 ZULU