Wat's Dyke: 365m long section, extending from 45m north east of Gate House on Shrewsbury Road


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020618

Date first listed: 25-Mar-1937

Date of most recent amendment: 28-Jan-2003


Ordnance survey map of Wat's Dyke: 365m long section, extending from 45m north east of Gate House on Shrewsbury Road
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. 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.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Oswestry

National Grid Reference: SJ 29793 28978


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

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 dykes 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 to be nationally important. This 365m long section of Wat's Dyke, 45m north east of Gate House, survives as a standing earthwork bank and traces of a ditch on the western side of the terrace, known as Shelf Bank. Soils in the buried ditch and in the base of the bank will contain valuable evidence for the landscape at the time of the Dyke's construction and the methods by which it was built.


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


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of part of the boundary known as Wat's Dyke. This section runs for 365m from the southern end of Laburnum Drive to a point 45m north east of Gate House on Shrewsbury Road. Throughout this section the Dyke has been incorporated into private gardens. The earthwork bank was constructed along the crest of a natural terrace known as Shelf Bank. The defensive bank is now about 0.8m high, on average, and about 4m wide at the base. The terrace slopes steeply down to the west and is about 5m high. At the base of the terrace a ditch was made about 3.5m wide. This is now largely infilled, which has protected the soils at the bottom of the original defensive earthwork. At the southern end of this section the bank and ditch have been cut into by the excavation of a level platform for a new house and garden. Lying 10m to the north and 500m to the south of this section are further sections of Wat's Dyke, which are the subject of separate schedulings.

All fence posts, telegraph poles, concrete bases for garden sheds and greenhouses and the surfaces of garden paths 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. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 33875

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Worthington, M, Wat's Dyke, (1993)

End of official listing