Our Heritage Bulldozed
by Dick Franklin
Offa`s Dyke is a large earthwork in the form of a ditch and defensive earth wall, more or less running the entire length of the border between England and Wales. In the 8th century it formed a delimitation between the Welsh Kingdom of Powys and the Anglian Kingdom of Mercia.
Opinions vary. Some academics feel that it was intended to be defensive, by keeping the Welsh in or out (depending on your point of view) with troops stationed at various points. The more common view was that it was symbolic. It was probably built between the years 757 to 796 by order of King Offa, who was one of the great rulers of Anglo-Saxon times. There are some authorities who hold that it may have been older than this and was built by a succession of Mercian rulers. Either way it would have been a massive undertaking, as it would all have been done with spades, shovels and wheelbarrows.
A 50 yard length of the Dyke was recently bulldozed by one Danny, who describes himself as a “traveller”. He claimed he wanted to build a stable on the site. Although he owned the land, this Danny had absolutely no right to destroy this part of an ancient monument. It is also a World Heritage site, ranked along with the Pyramids and Stonehenge. After a superficial investigation, the police declined to take any action on the grounds that Danny had never heard of Offa`s Dyke [despite ignorance of the law being no defence].
I accept that this monument may not be as well known as some others. However, whether or not this ignoramus was aware of this heritage site is clearly open to question. When he bought the land the deeds would have shown that the Dyke ran through it. Nothing can be done to restore the damage that has been done to our forebears’ work. However, at the very least the site should be reinstated to its former appearance and Danny should be charged for it.
I would go further. If this person is not prepared to respect this ancient monument, he should be dispossessed of the land on which it stands. National Heritage, which is responsible for such sites, needs to be far more proactive in protecting them and should be given the proper powers it needs to do this. Ancient monuments remind us of who we are. They are part of us and must be protected at all costs. Patria will see this is done.