Review – Offa’s Dyke: landscape and hegemony in 8th-century Britain

1 min read
Keith Ray and Ian Bapty
Windgather Press, £29.95
ISBN 978-1905119356
Review George Nash

This welcome volume provides the reader with a detailed and comprehensive history of one of the most important early medieval earthworks in the British Isles. The 240km earthwork bank and ditch of Offa’s Dyke would have been a massive undertaking in terms of construction and administration. Despite its prominence in the landscape, various aspects of this complex linear earthwork remain matters of debate, not least when it was built and by whom.

The book, divided into nine wellcrafted chapters and supported by more than 200 images, charts the complex history of the monument, its place in the wider landscape, its morphology, and its link to the significant European monarch from whom the dyke takes its name: the Mercian King Offa (AD 757-796).

As might be expected of a book of this calibre, it provides the reader with more questions than answers to an enigma that physically divided two nation-states and two landscapes. It is a must-have for those researching the early medieval archaeology of the frontier lands of the Welsh Marches.

This review appeared in CA 329.

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