KING Offa must be spinning with glee in his eighth century grave at revelations that Herefordshire could be set for a land-grab from Wales of sizeable proportions.

During times of heightened feeling as rugby’s Six Nations Championship plays out across the UK, Welshman Myrddyn Phillips believes the Wales-England border, which roughly follows the Anglo-Saxon defences built by Offa to keep out the Welsh, is in the wrong place.

According to his strenuous mapping procedures, Herefordshire’s westerly borders are wider than was previously thought.

The experienced hill walker and surveyor from Welshpool has not left a stone unturned.

His investigations in partnership with Mark Trengove have revealed that the national border lies 39 feet short of the line along a nine-mile stretch of the Black Mountains.

In Herefordshire, news that the border on Hatterall Ridge, the main easterly part of the Black Mountains range is wrongly placed, has received a mixed response.

Celebrated writer and journalist Matthew Engel, whose home looks across to the ridge, fears the worst.

“I’d say this would mean a great deal less land outside the national park rather than in it. And that means more chance of some anti-social character building a monstrosity on the mountaintop and getting away with it,” he believed.

Welshman Tudor Price-Jones, now living in Australia, was also unimpressed.

“It sounds like a typical bit of English land-grabbing, like the securing of land by the digging of Offa’s Dyke.”

Meanwhile art historian Ronald Moore, who lives in the area, made a light-hearted suggestion. “I would suggest the swift construction of a whole new set of motte and bailey castles along the newly drawn border!”

One of the longest running high ridges in England and Wales, Hatterall Ridge has been mapped by Mr Phillips and Mr Trengove using a state-of-the-art system.

If accepted, their findings would mean that Herefordshire villages such as Michaelchurch Escley, Craswall and Longtown might not be quite as close to the Welsh border as has long been supposed.

The ‘land-grab’ would give England – and more precisely Herefordshire – an extra 1.8 million square feet.

The men contend that the present border follows the natural watershed from the summit of Twyn Llech, but should be further west.

Their story has been splashed in national newspaper and the likes of Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine and TV’s Eamon Holmes have beaten a path to their door.

However, a spokesman for the Ordnance Survey has made clear that the official map will remain unchanged.

Mr Phillips, a hillwalker with over 30 years of experience, admitted he has a soft spot for Hatterall Ridge.

“The Black Mountains as a whole give some of the most rewarding hill walking in the country,” he told the Hereford Times.

“I’ve visited this part for many years but it keeps drawing me back. It has an openness to it that I find wonderfully uplifting.”