Offa’s Dyke and the Cheshire Cat Syndrome: Interrogating Dykes and Routeways: Andrew Fleming

Linear earthworks are about nothing if not movement through landscape; from a landscape archaeologist’s viewpoint, long earthworks and long-distance routeways have certain similarities, not least in terms of scale and ‘behaviour’.  Especially where neighbouring polities were relatively large and ethnically different, ‘frontier works’ must have been related to, and complemented by, an effective system of routeways/roads and surveillance points. These issues are discussed in relation to a well-known conundrum: how do we interpret the behaviour of Offa’s Dyke in Herefordshire, where it apparently becomes ‘hyphenated’ and then disappears altogether? In this area, the Dyke’s elusive character may help us to develop insights into the nature of the early medieval ‘frontier zone’.