World War II pillbox 100m west of Ralegh's Cross Hotel
- 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.
- West Somerset (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 03837 34397
Reasons for Designation
From the summer of 1940 England's defences were strengthened against the
threat of German invasion. A large number and diversity of defensive
structures were built across the whole country, from road and rail blocks
to underground `hides', from earthwork gun emplacements to barbed wire
entanglements, anti-tank ditches and pillboxes. The most substantial of
these were the pillboxes, small reinforced concrete or brick buildings of
a diversity of shapes and forms, designed to house either infantry,
anti-tank guns or field artillery. The full range of defensive structures
was generally complementary, however, and a variety of structures were
therefore built together, either at vulnerable or strategically important
nodal points, along the coast, on the communications network, around vital
installations such as airfields, or arranged in linear defensive systems
called Stop Lines that were intended to obstruct the enemy's advance.
Pillboxes had 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the following two decades was superseded in early 1940 by design
principles born from the practical experience of British troops in France,
giving a shell-proof concrete construction whose loopholes or embrasures
in each facet gave all round cover.
Some World War I examples survive in eastern and southern England, but
pillbox construction mainly dates from late May 1940 as part of the rapid
programme of anti-invasion defences initiated after the fall of France.
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 some were hidden within existing
structures. By late 1940, however, the tactical concepts underlying the
use of pillboxes, especially their deployment to provide linear defensive
lines, were being criticised as too inflexible, costly and impractical as
an effective defensive system. Increasing reliance was being placed on the
digging of fieldworks around vulnerable points and on the use of mobile
troop units. This shift of policy culminated in 1941 in an order requiring
no more pillboxes to be built, by which time some 20,000 pillboxes had
existed in England. About 5500 survive, some 800 in good condition.
The pillbox 100m west of Ralegh's Cross Hotel survives intact at an important and well known junction on Exmoor. It is one of only two which were built inland on Exmoor, although Porlock Bay, about 20km to the north west was defended by a network of pillboxes, many of which still survive. The monument illustrates the measures taken to fend off the threat of German land invasion from the south west in the early years of World War II. It survives also as an intact example of a Type 24 infantry pillbox, one of about 500 good examples of the 1700 or so originally built in England.
The monument includes a World War II pillbox located in the grounds of the
Ralegh's Cross Hotel, situated on the summit of a broad ridge which
extends along the Brendon Hills area of Exmoor.
The pillbox forms part of the anti-invasion defensive system established
between June and October 1940 to counter the threat of German invasion.
The pillbox conforms to a standard War Office Type 24. It is constructed
from reinforced concrete and clay brick on a concrete foundation raft,
with the lower part of the structure sunk below ground level. It is
hexagonal in plan with walls up to 0.9m thick and external faces of 3.1m
in length, although the rear south-facing wall in which the doorway is
set, is slightly longer. The five other walls each contain an embrasure or
firing loop of uniform design, a horizontal slit 0.6m wide which is
splayed internally to accommodate a light machine gun which would have
been positioned in front of it. The structure has a flat roof with a
slight step above the embrasures and is 1.6m high above the surrounding
The post and wire fence surrounding the pillbox is excluded from the
scheduling, where it falls within its 1m protective margin, although the
ground beneath is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 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
Riley, H, Wilson-North, R, The Field Archaeology of Exmoor, (2001), 168
ST 03 NW 89, National Monuments Record,
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