Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003239
Date first listed: 06-May-1975
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: NZ 16861 85466, NZ 17292 85744, NZ 17522 86256, NZ 17693 86839
Pillboxes, 894m NNE, 320m north west, 301m south and 718m south west of Mitford Bridge.
Reasons for Designation
World War II pillboxes are built and heavily protected defensive gun positions, mostly for infantry with rifles and machine-guns but larger forms housed light artillery, notably anti-tank guns and light anti-aircraft guns. They are generally grouped around vulnerable or strategically important nodal points, installations and areas, or arranged along linear defensive systems designed to obstruct the enemy's advance across the country. Pillboxes first appeared widely as a defensive element in the relatively static trench warfare of World War I. Gradual development over the following two decades was superceded in early 1940 by design principles born from the practical experience of British troops in France, giving a shell-proof reinforced concrete construction whose hexagonal plan had a gun loophole in each facet giving all-round cover, strongly influencing designs issued from May1940 by the War Office and by the Chief Engineers of the regional Commands. Nationally, pillbox construction began in late May 1940 as a key part of the rapid programme of anti-invasion defences initiated after the fall of France to German troops. By October 1940, over 14,000 shuttered concrete pillboxes had been built, supplemented by large numbers in other construction techniques and a small number of commercially-produced pillbox designs. Various forms of camouflaged facing were employed and others were hidden within existing structures, depending on local circumstances. By early 1941 however, the tactical concepts underlying pillboxes, especially their deployment to provide linear defensive lines, were becoming criticised as being too inflexible, costly and impracticable as an effective defensive system, with increasing reliance being placed on dug fieldworks around vulnerable points and the use of mobile troop units. This shift in policy culminated in February 1942 in an order requiring no more to be built as they were deemed unsuitable, by which time over 20,000 pillboxes had been completed.
The pillboxes, 894m NNE, 320m north west, 301m south and 718m south west of Mitford Bridge are substantially preserved as standing structures and are good examples of part of a Stope Line. Stop lines represent field fortifications setup during World War II to protect against invasion. They consisted of strung-out lines of defences located in lines spread across the country designed to gradually halt an enemy advance. The four pillboxes once formed part of the Northern Command River Wansbeck Stop Line and as such represent a good example of a major line of homeland defence from World War II. Their proximity to Mitford Castle provides them with greater significance as they offer insight into the changing character of fortification and defence between the medieval period and the 20th century.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 1 June 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes the remains of four pillboxes dated to World War II, situated to the north and south of Mitford and the River Wansbeck. The three most northerly pillboxes form an approximate NNE-SSW line spanning the River Wansbeck with the fourth and most southerly pillbox being situated just to the west of Mitford Castle. All four pillboxes, which stand intact, were constructed in reinforced concrete to the same design between 1940 and 1941; they are hexagonal in plan with two longer sides, have a single door protected by a porch and nine gun-slits. The pillboxes form part of the Northern Command River Wansbeck Stop Line.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: ND 568
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:- 1421622, 1421692, 1427506, 1449326
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing