“Community archaeology”

Alongside these conservation and recording activities CoSMM will explore what the monuments mean to the communities living alongside them today and to the people who visit them. That the monuments continue to hold significance is in no doubt. Aside from the most obvious National Trail that bears the name of Offa’s Dyke the countryside of the Anglo-Welsh border is littered with contemporary references to Offa ranging from, for example, a local business park, a brewery and even a distillery! The monument’s role in local mythology, entertainment, tourism and as a tool for local economic vitality is unmistakable. But alongside these tangible references are other more subtle mechanisms through which these monuments are appropriated, transformed and represented in the early twenty-first century and it is these the project is equally concerned with.

In order to explore the significance and meanings attached to the dykes, the volunteers and members of the local communities, both individually and collectively, will be invited to complete an anonymised questionnaire. Attitudes towards the conservation, interpretation and meaning of the monuments will be surveyed, analysed and summarised. It is hoped that this aspect of the project will provide a means by which wider community engagement, most notably through schools, will be encouraged and facilitated. Additionally, the local representatives and volunteers will be invited to events and meetings hosted by the ODA to facilitate face-to-face discussions to supplement those made available through the project’s intranet. Finally, the questionnaires will also be made available in the Offa’s Dyke Centre at Knighton to encourage visitor participation and those willing to take a few minutes to complete the survey will be invited to sign up for regular updates on progress.