History Points

23rd July 2014

HistoryPoints Offa’s Dyke Path – guest blog by Rhodri Clark

There’s no escaping history when you walk the Offa’s Dyke Path. Much of the trail is on or beside the dyke, created in the 8th century or possibly earlier. Quite a bit has happened since then!

Now you can discover fascinating historical facts on your mobile phone as you walk. Information project HistoryPoints.org and trail officer Rob Dingle have placed QR (Quick Response) codes on posts, fences, walls and window panes at more than 40 locations – known as HiPoints – along Welsh sections of the path.

How to use the codes:

Install a QR scanner (freely available online) on your smartphone, if you don’t have one already. Activate the scanner and hold the phone’s camera up to the QR codes, to download a HistoryPoints web page with a concise history of what’s in front of you. It’s free (other than any data charges from your mobile provider).

Use the Offa’s Dyke Path icons, at the foot of each web page, to see where the next HiPoint is, in your direction of travel. Each page comes with a map (click on “Where is this HiPoint?”).

If you occasionally find that you can’t connect to the internet on the spot, keep the web-page address on your phone until you’re back in range, further along the trail.

What you’ll discover:

Some of the QR codes relate to obvious features, such as Pontcysyllte (Britain’s longest aqueduct) or the dramatic upland cliffs at Eglwyseg. Others point out and explain curiosities in the landscape, e.g. the remains of a giant Hoffman limekiln at Llanymynech or a former hydro-electricity dam at Leighton.

Some HiPoints are about things you’d never have guessed from looking at the scene today. They include: fields near Monmouth and Welshpool where abbeys once stood; a building in Prestatyn where Status Quo, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones performed; and the birthplace near Welshpool of the notorious Leyland cypress (aka “leylandii”).

At Discoed, near Presteigne, the HistoryPoints tour recommends a short detour to a yew tree that’s reputedly 5,000 years old.

Some of the place-names along the way, including Pontcysyllte, can be tongue-twisters for non-Welsh-speakers, so HistoryPoints has included sound files on relevant web pages for anyone to hear correct pronunciation on their mobile. The Welsh Place-Name Society (one of many contributors to the project) has supplied brief explanations of the meanings and origins of names for settlements and mountains.

At each end of the trail, the HistoryPoints QR-code tour links in to the project’s tour along the 870-mile Wales Coast Path, where there are more than 300 HiPoints.

You can also browse the web pages at home, at www.historypoints.org. If you’re planning to walk just a section of the Offa’s Dyke Path, use the tour introduction page to see what local HiPoints await you.

Feedback:

The volunteers behind HistoryPoints would like more feedback please from walkers who have used the QR codes, including suggestions for improvements or future HiPoints. Please use the feedback form to get in touch.

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