Offa’s Dyke Journal, Volume 1

The archaeological societies founded in the 19th century embraced all aspects of the discipline, and from about the beginning of the 20th century societies came to be formed. In recent years, they have been joined by more-specialist societies and journals. And, in a new move related to changes at publishing outlets, journals are being produced and distributed by publishers rather than societies. Now we are presented with a journal on a single, albeit complex, monument, Offa’s Dyke, adding to the growing range of journals published by Archaeopress, and on open access.

This is an exciting new development, challenging past practices whereby reports on individual monuments might be published in a range of local and national journals. This is especially important with linear monuments – Roman frontiers just as much as Offa’s Dyke – where there is a lot of dispersed information, and is good news for the researcher who will now be able to find all their material between two covers. What, though, will be the effect on local journals, already under pressure from open access? Time will tell. In the meantime, what of our new offering?

The first edition of this new journal contains seven papers. The first, by Howard Williams and Liam Delaney, explains the genesis of the journal and its editors’ vision, while the second, by Ann Williams, offers an introduction to Offa’s Dyke. Margaret Worthington Hill’s contribution on Wat’s Dyke is a reprinted and edited version of a paper published elsewhere. Paul Belford examines excavation and protection in relation to both Offa’s Dyke and Wat’s Dyke, while Andy Seaman examines some of the literary evidence. The last paper, by John Swogger, describes an initiative presenting the heritage through comics. These papers offer a wide range of information directly related to Offa’s Dyke. They are joined by a seventh paper by Astrid Tummuscheit and Frauke Witte on a defensive system in the German–Danish borderland, a contribution in accord with the vision of the editors that the journal will ‘provide a venue for comparative studies’.

The papers have met the aspirations of the editors and the journal is attractively produced. We wish Williams and Delaney editors all success in their new venture.

Offa’s Dyke Journal, Volume 1, Howard Williams and Liam Delaney (eds), Archaeopress, £25, IBSN 978-1789695380
Review by David Breeze.