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New project tries to unravel mystery behind Wat’s Dyke, Flintshire

SOME of the mystery behind the historic Wat’s Dyke is being used to attract tourists.

Running parallel with Offa’s Dyke, the older 44-mile long trail runs from Basingwerk Abbey in Greenfield and ends in Maesbury, south of Oswestry.

Thanks to rural regeneration agency Cadwyn Clwyd and Mold and District Civic Society, a plaque is being erected near the remains of the dyke, in the grounds of Beaufort Park Hotel at New Brighton, to enlighten visitors.

The plaque highlights walks along the trail, encouraging tourists to the area.

Project officer Adam Bishop said: “Wat’s Dyke deserves to be much better known and we believe this project will help local people and visitors get a better understanding of a fascinating period in the history of this part of Flintshire.

“This area was where Celtic Wales and Saxon Mercia met, and there must have been a great deal of tension as well as trade and commerce – it would have been the Iron Curtain of its day.”

Unlike Offa, Wat was not the name of a Mercian king.

The word ‘wat’ could mean wet or rough.

It is generally thought Wat’s Dyke was built by Offa’s predecessor, King Ethelbald, who reigned 716-757AD.

It was constructed with a ditch averaging 2m in depth and 5.7m wide on the Welsh side and a mound or rampart averaging 2m in height and about 8.1m wide on the Mercian side.

Barbara Lowens, from Mold and District Civic Society, said: “We think the dyke is a combination of defensive works and boundary demarcation.

“It could not have been defended along its length, but there would have been points at which people came through it.”

Sections of the dyke have been damaged or even built on, but there are parts around Sychdyn where it is visible.