Places to stay near Offa’s Dyke

Offa’s Dyke

Pen-y-Dyffryn Hotel is located one mile from the famous Offa’s Dyke footpath on the Shropshire Welsh border near Oswestry. This long distance footpath offers fantastic day walks and incorporates some of the most stunning views of into Wales, including Chirk Castle, the Shropshire plains and towards the Long Mynd. The hotel offers comfortable accommodation and great food to tired walkers. Packed lunches also available.

History of Offa’s Dyke

Built at the command of the eighth-century king of Mercia, Offa’s Dyke is today Britain’s longest ancient monument, following the border between England and Wales. Yet despite more than a century of study, experts still do not fully understand how or when the Dyke was built, and in recent years views have diverged even about such basic questions as its purpose.

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).

At the same time, this ‘Mercian regime’ was trying to annexe territories of the Britons of Wales and was seeking to rival the continental empire of Charlemagne, the charismatic leader of the Kingdom of the Franks, crowned by the Pope (in 800) as Holy Roman Emperor.

At a recent excavation at Plas Offa near Chirk, one radiocarbon date from turf redeposited within its bank suggested a possible origin as early as the fifth century AD, while a few metres away another sample from the base of the bank indicated a possible ninth-century date. Considerable investment of resources would be required to produce more precise dating.

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