Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Devil's Ditch
The land of my ancestors is shown in the figure to the right. No names, no descriptors, just the land and the rivers are shown. The tracings in blue represent the river Dee. [The head waters to the west.] The tracings in green represent the river Severn. [The headwaters to the west.] They begin their long journeys to the sea, the Dee flowing north, and the Severn flowing south. The black stars are the locations of iron age "hill forts" that represent the locations of defensive positions arranged by the family units occupying the land. They seem to cluster in a certain pattern, four to the southeast, two in the middle, and three to the north. The red dashed line shows the position of Offa's Dyke as it runs north to south. In some cases, the dyke ran right through a hill fort. [Believed by most to be built during his reign 757 - 796 AD ] Some are to the west of the dyke, and some are to the east. At the time of its placement, this must represent those who came under Offa's control, and those stayed on the other side of the fence. It certainly fits the geographic location of the Kingdom of Mercia moving up the Severn to the northwest. At completion, the ditch was 6 feet deep, and from the bottom of the ditch, the rampart was 24 feet above. [The ditch facing west of course.] The Welsh were to call this "The Devil's Ditch".
Say hello to Offa. The drawing to the left is my attempt to picture this fella. It is taken from his image on the silver penny he introduced for the first time to the pockets of those in the land. He appears fairly young with quite a hair do! It appears that he had a beard, and certainly looks like would want to take charge of things around him. He had contact with Pope Hadrian I, who allowed him to establish a church center at Lichfield. It was out of this center that much of Charlemagne's educational institutions were derived. [Was to change the world as we know it.] There was certainly a lot of international intrigue surround Offa and Charlemagne! [Marriage of sons and daughters, and trade and such.]
It would appear that my family managed to walk this fence through out the generations to come. Hello Offa... you devil you.