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Offa was King of Mercia 757-796 and Bretwalda of the other kingdoms of the Heptarchy. His power was so great that he declared himself King of the English in 774, the first person in Britain to use that title. He made a trade agreement with Charlemagne in Europe, and introduced the pound as a unit of currency in England.

Offa gives his name to Offa's Dyke, a wall which once marked long stretches of the border between England and Wales (similar to Hadrian's Wall between England and Scotland, although the latter is substantially older and also more famous and impressive).