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Observation post 820m SSE of Hanging Crag

A Scheduled Monument in Rochester, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.3218 / 55°19'18"N

Longitude: -2.2549 / 2°15'17"W

OS Eastings: 383919.872356

OS Northings: 603110.238543

OS Grid: NT839031

Mapcode National: GBR D6PX.M3

Mapcode Global: WHB0K.BHGL

Entry Name: Observation post 820m SSE of Hanging Crag

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021026

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32785

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

Details

The monument includes the standing and buried remains of a concrete
blockhouse situated on the Otterburn Army Training Estate. The blockhouse,
which is now redundant, served as an observation post or Vedette and is
one of a pair, which survives from an original group of four. The second
surviving observation post is the subject of a separate scheduling. The
four observation posts were placed around the perimeter of the Redesdale
Firing Range in order to prevent access to the range during live firing
and also to provide security and good vision for range personnel. The
exact date of their construction is unknown, but graffiti discovered on
the walls within this blockhouse indicates their existence by at least the
late 1920s. The most likely context for the construction of the
observation posts is towards the end of or in the aftermath of World War
I.

The blockhouse faces north west and is situated in a prominent position
above the valley of the Black Burn. Constructed of reinforced concrete, it
is hexagonal in shape, although part of the longest south east wall is
extended by 0.6m to accommodate an offset entrance passage. The blockhouse
measures a maximum of 3.5m north to south by 4m east to west, and it
stands to a maximum height of 2.6m above ground level although its lower
parts are buried beneath the level of the ground. It is flat-roofed and
the concrete walls, which are shell proof, are 0.6m thick. Narrow and wide
embrasures pierce three of the faces, although one of these and part of a
second have been blocked with concrete. Above the embrasures there are the
metal fixings for the provision of shutters and the remains of a fixing
for a radio mast remain in situ on its north west face. The spoil created
by the construction of the observation post has been placed around its
south and west sides creating an earthen bank a maximum of 3m wide, and
there are the remains of turf blast protection on the roof standing to a
maximum height of 0.3m.

Access to the interior is gained by an opposing series of concrete steps
at the east end of its northern side giving access to a doorway, which
leads into an offset entrance passage. Within the blockhouse, the eroded
remains of names, dates and batteries have been inscribed into the
concrete; the dates 1928 and 1935 are clearly visible, the former
associated with Z Bty and the names Sig Allen and Glayden. The doorway and
stairs are protected to the east by a detached blast wall of concrete 1.8m
long by 0.6m wide set 0.6m away from the entrance; this feature in
particular is considered to have been heavily influenced by German methods
of construction learnt during World War I.

MAP EXTRACT
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 (8094ha) acres 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 pratice 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
(8094ha) acres to create a second Artillery Range and camp at Otterburn.
In 1959 the Ranges were renamed 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 observation post 820m SSE of Hanging Crag survives well in an
unmodified condition with a range of component features intact. It is one
of a pair, which survives from an original group of four, and represents
an early phase of range safety and security. The observation post
illustrates an early form of blockhouse construction in England, which is
considered to be influenced by German methods of construction learnt
during World War I. The Redesdale examples are thought to be unparalleled
and hence they are an important survival in the history of military
training in England.

Source: Historic England

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