Drawing the Line: What’s Wat’s Dyke? Practice and Process

John Swogger, Howard Williams


Often neglected and misunderstood, there are considerable challenges to digital and real-world public engagement with Britain’s third-longest linear monument, Wat’s Dyke (Williams 2020a). To foster public education and understanding regarding of Wat’s Dyke’s relationship to the broader story of Anglo-Welsh borderlands, but also to encourage the monument’s management and conservation, we proposed the creation of a comic heritage trail (Swogger and Williams 2020). Funded by the University of Chester and the Offa’s Dyke Association, we selected one prominent stretch where Wat’s Dyke is mainly damaged and fragmentary and yet also there remain well-preserved and monumental sections. Around Wrexham, Wat’s Dyke navigates varied topographies including following and crossing river valleys, and it is accessible to the public in the vicinity of North Wales’s largest town. In this article we outline the dialogue and decision-making process behind the map and 10-panel comic: What’s Wat’s Dyke? Wrexham Comic Heritage Trail (Swogger and Williams 2021; Williams and Swogger 2021a–b). In particular, we consider the stages taken to adapt from the initial plan of producing a bilingual map guide in response to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. This digital resource, published online in Welsh and English, guides visitors and locals alike along a central stretch of Wat’s Dyke around Wrexham town from Bryn Alyn hillfort to the north to Middle Sontley to the south. The comic heritage trail thus responds to the highly fragmented nature of the monument and utilises the linearity of Wat’s Dyke as a gateway to explore the complex Anglo-Welsh borderlands from prehistory to the present day. Building on earlier discussions (Swogger 2019), What’s Wat’s Dyke? illustrates the potential of future projects which use comics to explore linear monuments and linear heritage features (from ancient trackways and roads to railways and canals) constructed across the world from prehistory to recent times.


comics; heritage; public archaeology; Wat’s Dyke

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.23914/odj.v3i0.326


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Edited in Madrid by JAS Arqueología