Wat's Dyke, 420m long section, 190m west of the junction between Preeshenlle Lane and St Martin's Road


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Wat's Dyke, 420m long section, 190m west of the junction between Preeshenlle Lane and St Martin's Road
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Selattyn and Gobowen
National Grid Reference:
SJ 30487 34294

Reasons for Designation

Wat's Dyke is a linear earthwork boundary marker and defensive rampart. It runs for about 60km from Basingwerk, on the Dee estuary, southwards to Maesbury, near Oswestry. It consists of a large ditch, 5m wide and 2m deep, with a bank on the eastern side. The bank is 10m wide at the base, on average, and its original height was about 2.5m. Wat's Dyke runs roughly parallel to Offa's Dyke which lies to the west, sometimes only 500m away. Both dykes run along the borders between England and Wales, and it is clear that both were constructed to defend land on the eastern side from incursions coming from the west.

The earthwork bank and ditch ran without interruption except where the course of a stream or river cut through it. The date of construction has not been accurately determined, but it is considered that it was built at an earlier date than the parallel late 8th century Offa's Dyke, although it fulfilled the same purpose. The Dyke forms a boundary between lands firmly in control of the Anglo-Saxon overlords and lands more recently taken from the native Britains by the English. Subsequently land to the west of the Dyke became part of what is now Wales. The line of the Dyke has been shown to mark a division between hidated (land assessed for taxation on the basis of the Anglo-Saxon units known as `hides') and unhidated lands (land under a different system of government) at the time of the Domesday records. This suggests that the Dyke was constructed before the `hide' system was put into practice during the reign of King Offa of Mercia. The Dyke was probably built during the period of expansion of the kingdom of Mercia before the accession of Offa, possibly during the reign of Aethelbald (AD 716-757).

All known lengths of Wat's Dyke where significant archaeological deposits are known to survive are considered nationally important.

This 420m long section of Wat's Dyke, 190m west of the junction between Preeshenlle Lane and St Martin's Road, survives well as an upstanding bank and buried ditch despite having been partly built over by the road in the northern part and houses in the southern section. Since it has a high public profile both from the roadway and the footpaths which provide access from the north and the south, it will provide a source for recreational enjoyment and educational value for the community. Soils in the base of the bank and in the bottom of the buried ditch will have evidence for the construction of the Dyke and the management of the land at the time it was built.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of part of the boundary known as Wat's Dyke. This section runs for 420m from the point where the remains first become visible 40m to the south of Preeshenlle, to the north bank of the brook at Bryn y Castell. At the northern end of this section the Dyke consists of a bank, up to 2m high, diminishing to 0.9m high as it runs down to the roadway beside Pen y cae. In this stretch the ditch is overlain by the road to Henlle Hall on the western side of the bank. The ditch continues under the road to the western side of the garden at Pen y cae, where the bank is only 0.4m high. For the 210m to the south of this point the remains of the Dyke have been incorporated into the gardens of a new housing project, and in four instances houses have been partly built over the protected area. The bank and slight traces of the ditch then continue southwards, taking advantage of a terrace in the hillside, to the floor of the small valley to the north of Bryn y Castell, where the bank is 0.6m high and the ditch a pronounced depression on its western side. At a point 30m north of the bank of the brook, the remains of the Dyke are interrupted by a tramway embankment which leads to a mine shaft 80m to the west of the defences.

To the north and south of this section there are further sections of Wat's Dyke, which are the subject of separate scheduling.

All fence posts, telegraph poles, gate posts, a stile, the surface of the road and those parts of the houses which lie over the remains of the Dyke are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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:
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Books and journals
Worthington, M, Wat's Dyke, (1993)


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

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