Offa's Dyke: Landscape & Hegemony in Eighth-Century Britain [Paperback]

Keith Ray(Author); Ian Bapty(Author)

ISBN: 9781905119356 | Published by: Windgather Press | Year of Publication: 2016 | Language: English 464p, H9.7 x W7.3, 200 illus
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Offa's Dyke


The massive ancient linear earthwork that provides the sole commemoration of an extraordinary Anglo-Saxon king and that gives its name to one of our most popular contemporary walking trails remains an enigma. Despite over a century of study, we still do not fully understand how or when Britain’s largest linear monument was built, and in recent years the views of those who have studied the Dyke have diverged even about such basic questions as its physical extent and purpose.
This book offers a fresh perspective on Offa’s Dyke arising from over a decade of study and of conservation practice by its two authors. It explores the specifically Mercian and English context for its creation, and identifies ‘political places’ along its route that may have preexisted it. As well as reviewing past studies of the Dyke and debates about its character, the authors identify build practices not previously noted. They demonstrate the fundamental uniformity of the design of the earthwork, including in Gloucestershire, and show how it facilitated surveillance of the landscape at key locations. Offa’s Dyke is explained as the most dramatic among several devices of hegemony deployed by the Mercian regime of the late eighth/early ninth century, and as the key element in an early Welsh Marches frontier paralleled in Charlemagne’s contemporary European empire.

Table of Contents

On Offa’s Dyke (Gladys Mary Coles) vi
Acknowledgements vii
Preface ix
Foreword: Christopher Catling (Secretary, Royal Commission on
the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales) xi
Prefatory notes xiii
Introduction: Landscape and hegemony: Offa’s Dyke in dual perspective 1
1 Offa’s Dyke in profile: character, course and controversies 10
2 Studying Offa’s Dyke: a cumulative inheritance 55
3 The Mercians: a border history 93
4 Placing the Dyke in the landscape 122
5 The structure of the Dyke 164
6 Building and operating the Dyke 214
7 In a frontier landscape 254
8 The material of Mercian hegemony 298
9 Offa’s Dyke: power in the landscape 334
Epilogue: Reconnecting Offa’s Dyke in the twenty-first century 365
Appendix: Selected Offa’s Dyke profiles 377
Notes 381
List of Figures 427
Bibliography 430
Index 439

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