VANDALISM to a centuries old, historic piece of land bordering Wales and England has prompted conservation groups and government bodies to join forces in an attempt to secure its fragile existence.

Offa’s Dyke – an earthwork monument – was built in the late 8th century by the Anglo-Saxon King of Mercia, Offa. Stretching from Flintshire to Gloucestershire, it roughly follows the border between Wales and England and, today, around 80 miles of the monument survive in varying states of preservation and condition.

The Offa’s Dyke Path itself runs for 177 miles between Prestatyn and Chepstow and for long sections it shadows the monument, notably in Powys, Shropshire and the Wye Valley in Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire.

Centuries of gradual benign neglect have left their mark on the fabric of the dyke, however, which has prompted concerned groups to join forces and support the Offa’s Dyke Association Rescue Fund.

Among the dyke and fund’s many supporters are naturalist and TV presenter Iolo Williams. “As someone who lives just a stone's throw from Offa’s Dyke, I really appreciate its importance to local people and visitors alike,” said the BBC presenter.

“The dyke is hugely important historically and traverses some of the most stunning landscapes in Britain. It's vital that its preserved and restored for future generations to enjoy.”

Dave McGlade, chairman of the Offa's Dyke Association, based in Knighton, is concerned that Offa’s Dyke is not as well cared for and maintained compared to other UK Scheduled Monuments, such as Hadrian's Wall, Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Sites. In fact, he is alarmed by a 2017 survey that found less than 10 per cent of the dyke is in a favourable condition.

“Offa's Dyke is a sensitive archaeological landscape. It is also a Scheduled Monument, protected by statute law, and deserves to be treated with the utmost respect,” said Mr McGlade.

“The 2017 Offa's Dyke conservation management plan condition survey was a wake-up call to us all because it revealed that only 8.7 per cent of the dyke is in favourable condition. Thanks to decades of damage and erosion the archaeological record, unnoticed and unrecorded, is literally tumbling down the slope.”

In consultation with Cadw, among others, the Offa's Dyke Rescue Fund will seek to make purchases of parts of the dyke considered to be under threat from sustained damage or gross negligence. The fund will also be made available to the Cadw and Historic England-sponsored Offa’s Dyke conservation project officer to pay for proactive management interventions. These will include the removal of overgrown scrub vegetation and, where necessary, essential repairs to the dyke in order to save Britain's longest ancient monument for posterity.

In recent months, a decision not to prosecute the landowners at a site near Chirk where the 1,200

year-old Offa’s Dyke runs, prompted the latest action.

Although the damage has long been occurring, in recent years it has sustained some deliberate and irreversible acts of damage at various locations along its length.

Owing to the scheduled monument existing largely within private land, it falls upon landowners and local communities to keep it maintained. All too often, it falls prey to property developments and casual land-grabs. The irreversible damage often goes unnoticed unless sighted by passers-by.

“The Offa's Dyke Association, in partnership with Cadw, Historic England and Shropshire County Council, has embarked upon an ambitious conservation project and is determined to see more of the monument brought back into favourable condition,” added Mr McGlade.

“That will take time, in all probability many years, and the Offa's Dyke Rescue Fund gives everyone who cares for our shared heritage the opportunity to contribute to the dyke's wellbeing.”

Historic England added: “We are pleased to support the Offa’s Dyke Association Rescue Fund.

“For fifty years the dedicated staff and trustees have done wonderful work in informing local people and visitors from all over the world about this unique and internationally significant monument in the Welsh Borders.

“This is important work because Offa’s Dyke is the largest, most impressive, and most complete purpose built early medieval monument in Western Europe.”

Contributing to the fund is a fitting way to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Offa's Dyke Path National Trail, which will be marked next month.

The Knighton-based Offa's Dyke Association and Centre was established 52 years ago and is the friends group for both the trail and the monument. It is a membership-based charity dedicated to the dyke’s preservation, educational and community engagement, as well as the interests of walkers using the trail.

You can help support their work by contributing to the fund by visiting the Just Giving page at or