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Written by
Laura Paterson
Laura Paterson

A short history of Offa's Dyke Path

The name Offa's Dyke is an unusual one and you may wonder where it got this name. Here we explain a bit about the history of this unique National Trail! 

Who was Offa?

He was the King of Mercia (an Anglo-Saxon kingdom) and ruled over this region from 757 to 796AD. Mercia covered the area between the Trent/Mersey rivers in the North to the Thames Valley in the South, and from the Welsh border in the West to the Fens in the East. At the height of his reign, he also controlled Kent, East Anglia and Lindsay (Lincoln), and had alliances with Northumbria and Wessex, so was effectively an early King of England. He was a very influential figure who had contacts with the Papacy and Charlemagne, in France, and he also established the use of the penny. 

What is Offa's Dyke?

Essentially, it is a ditch and rampart which follows the Welsh/English boundary, thought to originally have been around 27 metres wide and 8 metres deep. It is a bit of a mystery as to its exact purpose, but it is thought that Offa built it as a border between Wales and Mercia. Whether it was an agreed boundary or if it was built for defense purposes it is unknown. It is thought to have been started around 785AD and just had a short period of importance before being abandoned by the 9th century. 

The National Trail

The Offa's Dyke Path National Trail was formally opened in 1971 and weaves its way along the Welsh-English border, closely following the Dyke for approx 80 miles from the Wye Valley to Wrexham. It passes through eight counties and two of Wales' Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (the Wye Valley and the Clwydian Range) and is often described as a walk through history. 

If you want to experience Offa's Dyke for yourself, don't hesitate to contact one of our team today, who will be happy to help you plan your adventure on this fascinating National Trail! 

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