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World War I practice trenches 740m north west of Short Fell

A Scheduled Monument in Rochester, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.317 / 55°19'1"N

Longitude: -2.2615 / 2°15'41"W

OS Eastings: 383498.788099

OS Northings: 602580.215112

OS Grid: NT834025

Mapcode National: GBR D6NY.5T

Mapcode Global: WHB0K.7MB8

Entry Name: World War I practice trenches 740m north west of Short Fell

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021025

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32784

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Rochester

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Horsley with Byrness

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a sector of
World War I practice trenches situated on level ground at the Otterburn
Army Training Estate. They were excavated on land acquired by the War
Office in 1912 to form the Redesdale Artillery Range. Their primary
purpose was to train infantry companies in the routine of defence, control
of overhead artillery fire and relief in the line during World War I.
The trenches, which face northwards, are visible as a series of earthworks
covering an area of about 240m north west to south east by 150m north east
to south west. The plan of the trenches, which is best appreciated from
the air, includes a front line fire trench, a support, or reserve, line
and associated communications trenches.

The front line, which lies at the northern extremity of the complex, is
visible as a fire trench of `bastion trace' or diamond-shape layout with
four interlinked bastions. Each bastion has a parados or mound of earth to
the rear, offering protection against reverse fire and the back burst of
high explosive shells. Communication trenches link the bastions and run
behind the parados in each case, turning them into isolated mounds up to
1.5m high. A support or reserve line lies between 60m and 70m to the south
of the front line, connected to it by a further set of three similar
bastions each with an isolated parados. The form of the reserve line is of
`square trace' or fire trench with traverses. Communication trenches with
a zigzag profile run southwards from the east and west ends of the reserve
line for 80m and 90m respectively at which point they converge. From this
point further short lengths of trench of a similar form continue to the
south and east.

The trenches of the front line, support line and the connecting series of
bastions survive up to 5.5m wide and 1.5m deep. Those of the communication
trenches are narrower, being about 4.75m wide, but are also 1.5m deep.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Army Training Estate Otterburn (ATEO) is one of seven Army Field
Training centres in the UK and is the largest single live firing area in
the country. It has been operational since 1911 when the War Office
acquired about 20,000 acres (8094ha) of land in Redesdale, Northumberland
to create a seasonal tented camp and artillery range for the training of
the newly formed Territorial Forces. The pattern of artillery firing,
from Easter to October, fitted in with local sheep farming practices, and
byelaws to control access during live firing periods were introduced in
1916. A period of intense training occurred during World War I to prepare
both artillery and infantry units for war, including the construction of a
sector of front line trenches at Silloans to practice infantry companies
in the routines of defence, control of overhead artillery fire and relief
in the line. After World War I the previous pattern of training was
restored and continued to 1939, the only change being that from horse
drawn to lorry drawn guns in 1938. During World War II, the training area
doubled in size with the acquisition and subsequent purchase of a further
20,000 acres to create a second Artillery Range and camp at Otterburn. In
1959 the Ranges were re-named as an All Arms Training Area, and five
infantry fire and manoeuver areas at Quickeningcote, Wilkwood, Davyshiel,
Sills and Heely Dodd were constructed under the Thurlow Plan. From 1969
Otterburn was designated as one of seven Principal Training Areas in the
UK and became increasingly used for fire and manoeuver training by
infantry units supported by artillery, mortars, guided missiles and air to
ground attack aircraft. Developments since 1969 have included the
construction of another battle shooting area at Ridleeshope and a moving
target railway system at Stone in the Mire for engagement by wire guided
anti-tank missiles.

The World War I practice trenches 740m north west of Short Fell survive
well and represent the earliest known phase of military training at the
Redesdale Artillery Range. Their plan and surviving form clearly
illustrate their function and provide a coherent monument, which can be
readily understood. World War I practice trenches are very rare in
England; hence, the Redesdale example is an important, significant and
evocative survival, which will enhance our knowledge and understanding of
early trench warfare.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Charlton, B, Fifty centuries of Peace and War, (1996), 153
War Office, , Manual of Field Engineering Volume 1, (1933)
War Office, , Manual of Field Engineering, (1911)

Source: Historic England

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