The district was formed by the Local Government Act 1972 on 1 April 1974 as part of a reform of local authorities throughout England and Wales. Under the reorganisation, the area surrounding the cities of Bath and Bristol was formed into a new county of "Avon", named after the river that ran through the area. The county was divided into six districts, one of which was formed from the areas of Keynsham and Norton-Radstock urban districts along with Bathavon Rural District and part of Clutton Rural District in Somerset. The district was named after the Wansdyke earthwork.
Following a review by the Local Government Commission for England, both the County of Avon and District of Wansdyke were abolished on 1 April 1996. Wansdyke was merged with the neighbouring City of Bath to form the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset.
The Parliamentary constituency of Wansdyke covering a similar but not identical area was replaced at the 2010 general election, when it was split and merged into the North East Somerset and Kingswood constituencies.