Offa's Dyke: section in Caswell Wood, 280m west of Beeches Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020601

Date first listed: 14-Mar-1938

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Sep-2002


Ordnance survey map of Offa's Dyke: section in Caswell Wood, 280m west of Beeches Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Gloucestershire

District: Forest of Dean (District Authority)

Parish: Tidenham

National Grid Reference: SO 54503 00377


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Offa's Dyke is the longest linear earthwork in Britain, approximately 220km, running from Treuddyn, near Mold, to Sedbury on the Severn estuary. It was constructed towards the end of the eighth century AD by the Mercian king Offa, and is believed to have formed a long-lived territorial, and possibly defensive, boundary between the Saxon kingdom of Mercia and the Welsh kingdoms. The Dyke is not continuous and consists of a number of discrete lengths separated by gaps of up to 23km. It is clear from the nature of certain sections that differences in the scale and character of adjoining portions were the result of separate gangs being employed on different lengths. Where possible, natural topographic features such as slopes or rivers were utilised, and the form of Offa's Dyke is therefore clearly related to the topography. Along most of its length it consists of a bank with a ditch to the west. Excavation has indicated that at least some lengths of the bank had a vertical outer face of either laid stonework or turf revetment. The ditch generally seems to have been used to provide most of the bank material, although there is also evidence in some locations of shallow quarries. In places, a berm divides the bank and ditch, and a counterscarp bank may be present on the lip of the ditch. Offa's Dyke now survives in various states of preservation in the form of earthworks and, where sections have been levelled and infilled, as buried features. Although some sections of the frontier system no longer survive visibly, sufficient evidence does exist for its position to be accurately identified throughout most of its length. In view of its contribution towards the study of early medieval territorial patterns, all sections of Offa's Dyke exhibiting significant archaeological remains are considered worthy of protection.

The section of Offa's Dyke in Caswell Wood, 280m west of Beeches Farm, survives well and illustrates the use of natural topography to enhance the form and visibility of the Dyke. The bank will have preserved part of the original ground surface, predating the construction of the monument, and along with the berm, ditch, counterscarp bank and quarries will contain environmental evidence in the form of organic remains which will relate both to the Dyke and to the landscape within which it was constructed. The bank will also contain evidence relating to the methods of construction of the monument and the building materials used.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of Offa's Dyke at Modesgate, 280m west of Beeches Farm. This section of the Dyke is in the care of the Secretary of State. Offa's Dyke generally consists of a bank up to 3.5m high with an intermittent ditch to the west and quarry ditches to the east. In places Offa's Dyke was strengthened by additonal earthworks, namely a berm between the bank and ditch, and a counterscarp bank on the western lip of the ditch. In this section the Dyke is visible as a bank, with a berm, ditch and counterscarp bank to the west and quarry ditches to the east. The Dyke follows a sinuous course running north-south for 633m through Lippets Grove and making use of the natural slope to the west which enhances the appearance of the bank in this area. Throughout much of the section the Dyke consists of the bank, with the berm forming a deliberate, man-made break in the hillslope immediately to the west, and quarry pits to the east. For a short stretch in the centre of the section, however, there is a ditch and counterscarp bank to the west of the bank. The bank is about 14m wide at its base and stands to approximately 4.3m on its western face and 0.5m on its eastern face. The berm to the west is between 1m and 2m wide. Where it is present, the ditch is between 3m and 10m wide and 0.4m deep, while the counterscarp bank is 0.4m high. To the east of the bank are a series of contiguous quarry pits, from which material was excavated during the construction of the monument. They are up to 1m deep and vary in width from 3m to 10m. The eastern side of the Dyke is abutted by a large lynchet at Ordnance Survey NGR SO54560068, a sample of which has been included in the scheduling. The lynchet has been interpreted as a later (probably post-Offan) earthwork connected with the cultivation of the land to the east of the Dyke. A track has been cut through the monument at Ordnance Survey NGR SO54530074, which has destroyed the bank, although the ditch and quarries will survive as buried features beneath the trackway. The gap is not thought to indicate an original access point through the Dyke. All fence posts, stiles and signposts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 33477

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hoyle, J, Vallender, J, Offa's Dyke in Gloucestershire: Management Survay, (1997)

End of official listing