Andy Heaton of the TRPG sent in this report:
The Trefonen Rural Protection Group (TRPG) hosted it’s “Autumn Speaker Evening 2017” which focussed this year on the Offa’s Dyke monument and long distance footpath that both pass through the heart of our village. In a packed village hall with over 120 of our community in attendance, the first part of the evening comprised David McGlade, Chairman of the Offa’s Dyke Association, who set the scene by providing a brief presentation on the Dyke.
David outlined the ODA’s primary focus as being the conservation of Offa’s & Wat’s Dykes. He mentioned Hadrian’s Wall, as being an example, of where walking routes can become severely eroded due to popularity with walkers. David concluded his talk, by describing his intention to engage with communities along the Dyke & Trail, with regular talks & site visits in 2018 – leading up to 50th anniversary in 2019.
There followed a brief presentation by archaeologists Melanie Leggatt and Ian Mackey, on Community Archaeology in the Anglo-Welsh borders. Earlier this year, the Offa’s Dyke Association sanctioned a new heritage project, which is to be led by Melanie and Ian, about community, story and landscape – recording and sharing memories of life along Offa’s Dyke.
The aim of the project is to create an accessible, scalable and maintainable online resource for the monitoring and preservation of Offa’s Dyke and its associated monuments. To achieve this, communities and archaeologists will be working together, to preserve and discover more of the meaning and purpose of Offa’s Dyke.
Local input will consist mainly of taking fixed-point photos of the dyke and participants in the project will also be encouraged to capture their thoughts/opinions of living in close proximity to the monument.
The ‘main event’ of the evening was a fascinating presentation by Dr. Keith Ray on Offa’s Dyke, with references to Wat’s Dyke. At a time when migrations and borders are again central to our politics and national identity, Dr. Ray took us back in time, to the creation of what was then Europe’s largest earthwork, Offa’s Dyke. He examined the role of the Mercian kingdom as a European power, and the ways in which Alfred and the Saxon kings rewrote that history.
The meeting concluded with a questions and answer session for all speakers. What was notable about the evening, was the number of people that attended and the enthusiasm with which they greeted the speakers. Before the event, the guest speakers mentioned that they expected an audience of ‘about 30 people’; they were taken aback, by the fact that all 120 seats in the hall were taken. Dr. Ray, having brought along some copies of Offa’s Dyke: Landscape & Hegemony in Eighth-Century Britain to sell after the event, sold them all before the presentations had even started. The feedback sheets that we received at the end of the evening, showed that there is significant interest in the ODA and the ODC, and the possibility of community involvement in a project relating to Offa’s Dyke.