Offa's Dyke: section in Shorncliff Wood including the Devil's Pulpit, 790m south west of Sheepcot


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020604

Date first listed: 14-Mar-1938

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Sep-2002


Ordnance survey map of Offa's Dyke: section in Shorncliff Wood including the Devil's Pulpit, 790m south west of Sheepcot
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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: ST 54221 99106


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.

This section of Offa's Dyke in Shorncliff Wood, 790m south west of Sheepcot, 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 to the west and quarries to the east, 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 a section of Offa's Dyke in Shorncliff Wood, 790m south west of Sheepcot. This section of the Dyke is in the care of 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 pits to the east. In places Offa's Dyke was strengthened by additional earthworks, namely a berm between the bank and ditch and a counterscarp bank on the lip of the ditch.

This 731m long section of the Dyke is visible as a bank with a berm taking the form of a deliberate, man-made break in slope to the west and a series of contiguous quarry pits to the east. At the northern end of the section is the area known as the Devil's Pulpit, formed by a pillar of rock thought to have been left following 19th century quarrying to the west of the Dyke, and which is included in the area of protection. The section of the Dyke immediately to the east of this pillar has since become a viewing point over Tintern Abbey and the River Wye. The bank of the Dyke in this section is up to 10m wide at its base, stands to between 2m and 4m high on its western face, and is up to 1.5m high on its eastern face. The berm to the west is up to 2m wide, while to the east of the bank is a series of contiguous quarry pits from which material was excavated during the construction of the monument, and which is up to 8m wide and between 0.7m and 1.8m deep. The monument closely follows the line of a steep scarp slope which develops into the Plumweir cliffs at the southern end of the section.

All sign posts, marker posts, fence posts and the area of experimental path surfacing to the north of the Devil's Pulpit 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: 33480

Legacy System: RSM


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

End of official listing