Talk:Offa's Dyke

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Dyke[edit]

Jeez, and I was about to delete this as somebody's off-colour joke :) --Robert Merkel

er, I don't think so... --user:sjc

I've fleshed out this article quite a lot now, though I'm still not entirely happy with it, and think there are some conceptual areas that need clearing up. When I come back to it I'll probably introduce more context, though much of that can probably be gained from looking at Offa of Mercia. Harthacanute 01:39, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Is Offa's Dyke defensive? Yes, of course, it looks like a defensive structure but that might be a mis-reading that fails to take into account the psyche of the era. It was never manned or used as far as we know; the whole thing looks like a huge gesture of the "see how big my castle is" sort from Offa (perhaps harking back to a dyke built by an earlier namesake in continental Europe?). This suggests that Offa did not need the defensive structure there -- in fact it would have been far more useful on Mercia's border with Northumbria where he had troublesome neighbours whereas the Welsh were apparently not giving him any difficulties (whether through subjugation or simply peaceful relations). OK, that looks like discussion of the subject rather than of the article but my question is: can we modify this to indicate that the structure is *apparently* defensive and gloss that by saying there is no evidence of it being manned? That is not speculation, it is simply avoiding the incorrect assertion that because it looks like a defensive structure, it must be a defensive structure. To give a modern analogy, a guy with a Ferrari probably doesn't have any need to drive at 150mph, but he does want to show off that he can afford and enjoy expensive toys! Any thoughts from the article's gurus? SamTheCentipede 21:23, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

These reservations are best expressed in quotes from the published authors who have voiced them. (Not a guru Wetman 06:07, 9 June 2007 (UTC))

Wall of Severus[edit]

Some time during the last few years I came across a suggestion that the Dyke was actually of Roman-era construction and that the Offa association likely came from his having refurbished rather than originated it. Unfortunately I can't recall where I saw this, other than it was likely in a "historical basis of Arthur" context. If I re-encounter the hypothesis and it looks sufficiently reputably sourced I'll bring it back here. 87.81.230.195 (talk) 12:30, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

I've reverted claims that the Dyke was a Roman wall built by Septimius Severus, as a fringe theory. It is rebutted here and elsewhere. Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:02, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
What I've now done is to retain the claim as an "alternative theory", but given it its due weight. It is not a mainstream theory, and is rejected by archaeologists who have worked on the Dyke. I've also taken out the references to an earlier date for Wat's Dyke - they need to be addressed at that article (as they already are), not here. Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:34, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

Thank goodness - when I started reading that section, I thought the discounted "theory" had gained some credence here! I found an article on the "Megalithic Portal" site some months ago, discussing the theory. I hadn't read very far, when I could already see holes beginning to appear. First, the authors (Steve Blake and Scott Lloyd ) had given great weight to writings by the largely debunked Roman author Procopius. Second they'd chosen to misread what he'd written (surprise) to bolster their theory. For some strange reason they think this passage from Nennius’ 'Historia Brittonum' supports their "theory":

‘In order to safeguard the acquired provinces from barbarian attack he [Severus] built a wall and rampart from
sea to sea through the breadth of Britanniae, this is for 132 miles and it is called in the British language Guaul.’

They further cite Procopius: "This latter day Roman mentions a wall built by the Britons running from north to south" So what did Procopius write?

Procopius - History of the Wars 8.20.42-8
Now in this island of Britain the men of ancient times built a long wall, cutting off a large part of it; and the climate and the soil and everything else is not alike on the two sides of it. For to the south of the wall there is a salubrious air, changing with the seasons, being moderately warm in summer and cool in winter. But on the north side everything is the reverse of this, so that it is actually impossible for a man to survive there even a half-hour, but countless snakes and serpents and every other kind of wild creature occupy this area as their own.

I think that speaks for itself - to the south lies civilisation, to the north be dragons! Another point is that most writers forget that while Hadrian's Wall ends at Bowness on Solway, a coastal system of forts, mile-castles and towers ran round the Cumbrian coast beyond the fort at Maryport, probably as far as St. Bee's head, maybe even Ravenglass fort. The additional length is either 30 miles (St. Bee's) or 45 miles (Ravenglass). The authors also make no distinction between Roman miles and statute miles, which rather shows their ignorance of all things Roman - it's outside their area of expertise (I'm being generous here).

They also ignore the fact that a Roman barrier built along the line of Offa's Dyke would have cut off dozens of forts and towns and the legionary fortress at Caerleon, which was garrisoned much later than Severus' time, and that there's no evidence of any unrest in the area at around that time. Never mind the truth, let's get on with writing the book?

I'll ponder on adding a few more salient (and referenced) items to that section. Ramble24 (talkcontribs) —Preceding undated comment added 00:00, 1 November 2009 (UTC).