Offa’s Dyke has provided a potent symbol of Welsh–English antipathy ever since it was created in the eighth century as a demarcation line by King Offa of Mercia, ruler of central England. George Borrow, in his classic book Wild Wales, notes that, once, “It was customary for the English to cut off the ears of every Welshman who was found to the east of the dyke, and for the Welsh to hang every Englishman whom they found to the west of it”.
The earthwork – up to 20ft high and 60ft wide – made use of natural boundaries like rivers in its run north to south, and is best seen in the sections near Knighton. Today’s England–Wales border crosses the dyke many times, although the basic boundary has changed little since Offa’s day. A glorious, 177-mile long-distance footpath runs the length of the dyke from Prestatyn in the north to Chepstow, and is one of the most rewarding walks in Britain.