Light Anti-aircraft battery on Holton Heath, 650m south east of Sandford House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Wareham St. Martin
National Grid Reference:
SY 93966 90239

Reasons for Designation

Although of comparatively recent date, 20th century military sites are increasingly seen as historic survivals representing a defining episode in the history of warfare and of the century in general; as such they merit careful record and, in some cases, preservation. One of the more significant developments in the evolution of warfare during this period was the emergence of strategic bombing in World War II, and this significance was reflected by the resources invested in defence, both in terms of personnel and the sites on which they served. During the war, the number of people in Anti-aircraft Command reached a peak of 274,900 men, additional to the women soldiers of the ATS who served on gunsites from summer 1941, and the Home Guard who manned many sites later in the war. A national survey of England's Anti-aircraft provision, based on archive sources, has produced a detailed record of how many sites there were, where they were and what they looked like. It is also now known from a survey of aerial photographs how many of these survive. Anti-aircraft gunsites divide into three main types: those for heavy guns (HAA), light guns (LAA) and batteries for firing primitive unguided rockets (so called ZAA sites). In addition to gunsites, decoy targets were employed to deceive enemy bombers, while fighter command played a complementary and significant role. The LAA sites used a range of weapons in defence against lower flying aircraft, and have a particularly wide distribution around the south and east coasts and close to cities and industrial and military targets such as airfields. Of all the gunsites, these were the least substantial, with the fabric depending to a large extent on the type of weapon employed. The Bofors machine gun was the weapon most frequently provided with a static emplacement. It was also the only LAA weapon whose associated structures were covered by formal design drawings, the remainder taking the form of simple fieldwork dugouts, at most making use of concrete blocks for revetments. The Bofors gun had three varieties of emplacement: ground level fieldworks, which were the most common; roof mountings; and towers of steel or concrete. These towers were never very numerous, with only 81 concrete examples supplied for use. These static Bofors sites were sometimes provided with on-site magazines, the design being left to local initiative. Remote positions for all types of gun were often provided with a few ancillary structures or domestic buildings, sufficient only to cater for their crew of 12 men, while ground defences were modest. The on-site magazines were often Anderson shelters adapted for the purpose. With few exceptions, sites were therefore small, slight and highly diverse. Nearly 1,250 LAA gunsites are recorded as having been built during World War II and can be accurately located. Around 50 of these have some remains surviving, though at only around 40 sites are these thought sufficient to provide an understanding of their original form and function. Surviving examples are therefore sufficiently rare to suggest that all 40 examples are of national importance.

The Light Anti-aircraft battery on Holton Heath, 650m south east of Sandford House survives well and represents one of about ten examples of Bofors towers known to survive in England. The tower represents part of a varied group of defences which form part of the nationally important remains of the Royal Naval Cordite Factory at Holton Heath.


The monument includes a Bofors tower, representing a Light Anti-aircraft battery situated on a plateau to the south west of the Royal Naval Cordite Factory site at Holton Heath. The site forms part of a wider group of anti- aircraft defences constructed to defend the cordite factory at Holton Heath during World War II. The battery in fact consists of two concrete built towers, set side by side and each supporting an upper platform. The towers are 7m by 3m and about 5m high. One tower was equipped with a 40mm Bofors gun, while the other housed the associated observation post. The separation of the two towers was designed to prevent vibration from the Bofors gun from affecting the vision of the observer. The platform still includes the in-built concrete ammunition lockers and some iron railings around the perimeter.

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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Pomeroy, C A, Military Dorset Today, (1995), 47
Mention, RCHME, Twentieth Century Military Recording Project (MPP Report), (1998)
Mention, RCHME, Twentieth Century Military Recording Project,


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

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