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Offa's Dyke misses out on audacious heritage bid

Published date: 29 March 2011 |
Published by: Nathan Rowden
Read more articles by Nathan Rowden


 

OFFA’S Dyke has missed out on the chance to join the likes of the Great Barrier Reef and the Taj Mahal in becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Last week UNESCO released their Tentative List for the UK and Offa’s Dyke had missed out.

Last year the Department for Culture, Media and Sport called for World Heritage Site nominations. A total of 38 came forward hoping to be included on the tentative list of sites.

Other Welsh nominations included Merthyr Tydfil, and the slate industry of North Wales – which did make it on to the list.

Pontcysyllte aqueduct and canal in Denbighshire is already a World Heritage Site, as is the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape in South Wales, close to the border with Powys.

Dating from the 8th century, Offa's Dyke is a great frontier earthwork built by Offa, King of Mercia. It gives its name to a long distance footpath, one of Britain's National Trails, which runs from Chepstow to Prestatyn through the varied landscapes of the Welsh Marches. In places, it is up to 65-feet wide and eight-feet high and in some places even goes through gardens.

The origins of the Dyke are so shrouded in mystery that many of its aspects are speculated upon rather than being fully understood.

Asser, the biographer of King Alfred gave the first known reference to it when he wrote that ‘a certain vigorous king called Offa... had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia from sea to sea.’

Chris Martin from Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust told the County Times in August that for Offa’s Dyke to become a World Heritage Site would be a bold and ambitious task.

“Along its length the Dyke has so many different ownerships – some parts even go through people’s back gardens,” he said.

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