Sub-Roman Britain

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Post by kosovohp on Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:50 am

After the Roman withdrawal from Britain in 410, much of the lowlands were overrun by various Germanic tribes.[58] However, Gwynedd, Powys, Dyfed and Seisyllg, Morgannwg and Gwent emerged as independent Welsh successor states. They endured, in part because of favourable geographical features such as uplands, mountains and rivers and a resilient society that did not collapse with the end of the Roman civitas.

This tenacious survival by the Romano-Britons and their descendants in the western kingdoms was to become the foundation of what we now know as Wales. With the loss of the lowlands, England's kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria, and later Wessex, wrestled with Powys, Gwent and Gwynedd to define the frontier between the two peoples.

Having lost much of what is now the West Midlands to Mercia in the 6th and early 7th centuries, a resurgent late-seventh-century Powys checked Mercian advancement. Aethelbald of Mercia, looking to defend recently acquired lands, had built Wat's Dyke. According to John Davies, this endeavour may have been with Powys king Elisedd ap Gwylog's own agreement, however, for this boundary, extending north from the valley of the River Severn to the Dee estuary, gave Oswestry to Powys.[59] King Offa of Mercia seems to have continued this consultative initiative when he created a larger earthwork, now known as Offa's Dyke (Welsh: Clawdd Offa). Davies wrote of Cyril Fox's study of Offa's Dyke: "In the planning of it, there was a degree of consultation with the kings of Powys and Gwent. On the Long Mountain near Trelystan, the dyke veers to the east, leaving the fertile slopes in the hands of the Welsh; near Rhiwabon, it was designed to ensure that Cadell ap Brochwel retained possession of the Fortress of Penygadden." And for Gwent Offa had the dyke built "on the eastern crest of the gorge, clearly with the intention of recognizing that the River Wye and its traffic belonged to the kingdom of Gwent."[59] However, Fox's interpretations of both the length and purpose of the Dyke have been questioned by more recent research.[60] Offa's Dyke largely remained the frontier between the Welsh and English, though the Welsh would recover by the 12th century the area between the Dee and the Conwy known then as the Perfeddwlad. By the eighth century, the eastern borders with the Anglo-Saxons had broadly been set.

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