Utilising Lidar Survey to Locate and Evaluate Offa’s Dyke

Liam Delaney


The enigmatic and gigantic Offa’s Dyke has long been understood as a demonstration of the power of the Mercian state in the long eighth century. Despite this, rarely have previous studies involved anything more than the visual observations of the earthwork. Moreover, ground-level perspectives cannot possibly contextualise its total breadth and character. The shortcomings in the resulting quality of data on the Dyke has led to uncertainties and debate over its route, extent, and placement in the landscape. With the application of lidar and other digital technologies, my ongoing doctoral research is providing a fresh understanding of the nature and original extent of Offa’s Dyke’s route by the creation of an accurate and empirical dataset. This digital dataset for Offa’s Dyke is identifying hitherto unknown sections of the monument.  Furthermore, it is providing the foundation for new investigations of the nature of the frontier in the eighth century by creating the basis for new investigations into the placement and landscape context of the monument. This article presents interim results on the investigation of the Herefordshire section of Offa’s Dyke, a stretch that has been among the most problematic and poorly understood from all sections of the earthwork. This study thus provides fresh perspectives utilising digital heritage tools and data sources to examine and re-evaluate evidence of the nature and extent of the monument and the wider Mercian frontier.


Offa’s Dyke, Herefordshire, Lidar, GIS, Landscape Archaeology

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.23914/odj.v3i0.314


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