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Observation post 780m north west of Blackburn Crag

A Scheduled Monument in Rochester, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.3343 / 55°20'3"N

Longitude: -2.2741 / 2°16'26"W

OS Eastings: 382711.179611

OS Northings: 604501.090662

OS Grid: NT827045

Mapcode National: GBR D6KR.GM

Mapcode Global: WHB0K.16D0

Entry Name: Observation post 780m north west of Blackburn Crag

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021029

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32788

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Rochester

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of a bunker
situated on the Otterburn Army Training Estate. The bunker, which served
as an observation post known as OP 10, is now redundant, and is one of a
group of four on the Training Estate situated in two pairs. The other
three bunkers are the subjects of separate schedulings. The bunker was
intended to provide shelter during training for parties of 16 Forward
Observation Officers guiding artillery fire into the impact area from
mobile guns placed outside. The exact date of its construction is
uncertain but a similar structure, thought to provide a parallel for the
four Redesdale examples, was constructed on the Okehampton Artillery Range
in 1923/24.

The bunker, which faces north east to command views over the Redesdale
Impact Area, is visible as a rectangular blockhouse with projecting
triangular wings encased in an earth and stone mound. The blockhouse is
constructed of reinforced concrete and measures 23m long, 2.5m wide, and
it stands to about 2.1m above ground level at its front face. The walls,
which are splinterproof, are 0.45m thick. Four rectangular recessed
embrasures 0.46m deep and 2.1m wide pierce its front face with a concrete
lintel over, which projects 0.15m and is 0.5m high. The earthen mound
which encases the bunker has spread to about 2m beyond the rear wall of
the bunker and stands to about 1.5m high. The front face of the bunker
projects above the level of the earth mound to a height of 0.8m.

Entry to the bunker is gained at the east end of the north face by a
series of descending concrete steps, which project 3.5m from the front
face of the bunker. The stairway is protected on each side by a brick
blast wall, which gives access to an offset passageway about 0.8m wide.
Internally, the metal fixings for the provision of a narrow wooden shelf
that originally ran the full length of the bunker immediately beneath the
line of embrasures are visible. A drainage gully at floor level runs the
length of the bunker immediately below the embrasures. It passes through
the east wall of the bunker into a small drain within the offset
passageway. The concrete base and flue opening of a potbellied stove are
retained in the south west corner of the bunker. Evidence of the
corrugated iron shuttering used in its construction is exhibited in the
roof.

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 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 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 780m north west of Blackburn Crag survives well in an
unmodified state with a range of its component features intact. It was
constructed as part of a wider group of four bunkers, which represent a
major phase of artillery training between World War I and II. These are
rare examples of structures of this kind with the only parallel being
single examples at Salisbury Plain and Okehampton Training Areas. Hence
they are an important survival in the history of military training in
England.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Francis, Paul , (2002)
Thomas, Roger J C , (2002)

Source: Historic England

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