Margin of error in radiocarbon dating
Once again, it is tempting to go beyond the evidence and suggest that the Watlingas were the people who lived around Wats Dyke and that the road gained its name because it led into their territory from the Anglo-Saxon heartlands of the South East.
This could mean either that the Dyke was so called because it lay in or on the border of their territory or that they took their name from a Dyke that already existed by the early eighth century.
His popularity as a folk hero continued until at least the fifteenth century, when his magic boat is mentioned by Chaucer in The Merchants Tale and Troilus and Criseyde.
In Britain, his memory has been preserved in Wats Dyke, Wades Causeway (a Roman road between Malton and Whitby, North Yorkshire.
All manuscripts of Bede have the incorrect initial Uc-, so the corruption of the name must go back to a very early copy of the Historia, if not to Bede himself.
Nevertheless, the Old English town name may be analysed as meaning Roman city of the Watlingas, the Watlingas being the people of little Wat.
Both Heoden and Hagena, Hilds father, are mentioned a line before Wada in Widsith, suggesting that the story was well known to the composer of the poem.
The hero Weland (the smith of Germanic mythology) was portrayed as his son and Widia, an historical character mentioned in Jordanes de Origine et Actibus Getarum xxxiv as Vidigioia, his grandson.
as Uclingacster (for *Utlingacster), given as the Old English name of Verulamium, St Albans.
Under the name Gado, he is portrayed as the son of a king of the Vandals who befriended Offa, King of Mercia.
As a champion of the just, he was temporarily able to frighten off the Romans who were preparing to invade Offas kingdom.
Offas Dyke is the best known and longest of these, but other well known examples include the Rowe Ditch in Herefordshire and the one I will be discussing here, Wats Dyke.
It is usually thought that the name is not of any great antiquity, being first documented (as Clauwdd Wade) in 1431, although the lateness of the date may be a result of the vagaries of survival of Welsh medieval documents.
At Ruabon, the two earthworks are less than a kilometre apart, but they are clearly separate entities.