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Target operator bunker, cable trenching and three target pits 750m north of Hopehead

A Scheduled Monument in Otterburn, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2717 / 55°16'18"N

Longitude: -2.1661 / 2°9'57"W

OS Eastings: 389543.50553

OS Northings: 597516.52369

OS Grid: NY895975

Mapcode National: GBR F79H.V1

Mapcode Global: WHB0S.PRQJ

Entry Name: Target operator bunker, cable trenching and three target pits 750m north of Hopehead

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021031

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32790

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Otterburn

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Otterburn St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument is partially situated within the Davyshiel Field Firing Box
on the Otterburn Army Training Estate. It includes the upstanding and
buried remains of a target operator bunker including the target lever
apparatus, three target pits and the distribution box and associated cable
trenches. This bunker is part of a group of five, which formed a small
arms training area constructed under the provisions of the Thurlow Plan
from 1962 to 1964. The other four target operator bunkers are the subjects
of separate schedulings.

The bunker is of standard form and dimensions and, facing north east, it
is visible as a square blockhouse of concrete construction, measuring 2.4m
across and about 2.3m high within walls 0.3m thick. A single narrow and
wide embrasure measuring 2.1m by 0.2m with vertical metal bars pierces its
north side. The blockhouse is entered from a subterranean passage 0.76m
wide along the full length of its eastern side, through a reinforced metal
door. The metal fixings for a second door are visible on the east wall of
the bunker at the other end of the passage. The entrance passage itself is
approached from the north by a descending flight of steps, which extend
2.75m to the north, protected by concrete blast walls 0.24m thick. A third
projecting blast wall protects the western side of the blockhouse. The
bunker is capped with earth and turf 0.2m high, and its south, east and
west sides are encased in an earthen mound of soil 2m wide. The original
metal gate across the entrance to the stairway remains in situ, and the
original bunker number IV written in white paint is retained on the north
end of the blast wall which flanks the western side of the stairway

Internally, the blockhouse is lined with asbestos sheets and has a wooden
shelf and an electricity supply fixed to its south wall. The bunker housed
a system of cables and levers which military personnel operated manually
to raise and lower three remote targets across the firing area. The target
apparatus, consisting of a system of levers and cables, is housed in a
wooden frame situated against the north wall immediately below the
embrasure. The cables leading from this mechanism emerged through a
rectangular recess situated immediately below the embrasure and were fed
into a wooden distribution box situated some 4m in front of north side of
the bunker. The concrete base and the two long axis of this box are
visible containing the metal pickets, which fed the cables in the
direction of each of the targets. The trenches, which contained the cables
running to the targets, are visible as linear depressions about 0.3m deep,
which in places retain metal fixings.

This bunker operated three remote targets, situated 18m and 33m west and
32m east of the bunker, the pits which housed the targets are each visible
as wood-lined rectangular hollows 2.5m by 2m wide and up to 0.3m deep.
Each contains the metal remains of the target mechanism. At least one of
these target pits also has two 0.03m metal pipes emerging into it from its
associated cable trench; these are considered to represent the conduits
through which the cables ran.

The fence line, which crosses the monument, is excluded from the
scheduling although, the ground beneath this feature is included.

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 eight 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
acres (8094ha) 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 target operator bunker 750m north of Hopehead survives well with a
range of component features intact. It was constructed as part of a wider
group of five bunkers and marks the highly significant change at Otterburn
from an Artillery Range to an All Arms Training Area in the late 1950s.
They are not thought to be paralleled by similar structures anywhere in
the United Kingdom and hence are an important survival. Taken as a group
they represent a major phases in the development of the Otterburn ATE. The
importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of the target pits
containing the remains of the metal target mechanism and their associated
cable trenches.

Source: Historic England


Title: Thurlow Plan Phase II: Davyshiel Area Tgt Op Bunkers 4 & 5
Source Date: 1963

Source: Historic England

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