Offa's Dyke: section in Shorncliff Wood including the Devil's Pulpit, 790m south west of Sheepcot
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Sep-2019 at 11:44:09.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Forest of Dean (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 54221 99106
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
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
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.
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Hoyle, J, Vallender, J, Offa's Dyke in Gloucestershire: Management Survay, (1997)
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing