World War I practice trenches 740m north west of Short Fell


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021025

Date first listed: 06-Oct-2003


Ordnance survey map of World War I practice trenches 740m north west of Short Fell
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1021025 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 20-Jan-2019 at 11:53:19.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Rochester


National Grid Reference: NT 83491 02571


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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 practice 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 to create a second Artillery Range and camp at Otterburn. In 1959 the Ranges were re-named 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 World War I practice trenches 740m north west of Short Fell survive well and represent the earliest known phase of military training at the Redesdale Artillery Range. Their plan and surviving form clearly illustrate their function and provide a coherent monument, which can be readily understood. World War I practice trenches are very rare in England; hence, the Redesdale example is an important, significant and evocative survival, which will enhance our knowledge and understanding of early trench warfare.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a sector of World War I practice trenches situated on level ground at the Otterburn Army Training Estate. They were excavated on land acquired by the War Office in 1912 to form the Redesdale Artillery Range. Their primary purpose was to train infantry companies in the routine of defence, control of overhead artillery fire and relief in the line during World War I. The trenches, which face northwards, are visible as a series of earthworks covering an area of about 240m north west to south east by 150m north east to south west. The plan of the trenches, which is best appreciated from the air, includes a front line fire trench, a support, or reserve, line and associated communications trenches.

The front line, which lies at the northern extremity of the complex, is visible as a fire trench of `bastion trace' or diamond-shape layout with four interlinked bastions. Each bastion has a parados or mound of earth to the rear, offering protection against reverse fire and the back burst of high explosive shells. Communication trenches link the bastions and run behind the parados in each case, turning them into isolated mounds up to 1.5m high. A support or reserve line lies between 60m and 70m to the south of the front line, connected to it by a further set of three similar bastions each with an isolated parados. The form of the reserve line is of `square trace' or fire trench with traverses. Communication trenches with a zigzag profile run southwards from the east and west ends of the reserve line for 80m and 90m respectively at which point they converge. From this point further short lengths of trench of a similar form continue to the south and east.

The trenches of the front line, support line and the connecting series of bastions survive up to 5.5m wide and 1.5m deep. Those of the communication trenches are narrower, being about 4.75m wide, but are also 1.5m deep.

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: 32784

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Charlton, B, Fifty centuries of Peace and War, (1996), 153
War Office, , Manual of Field Engineering Volume 1, (1933)
War Office, , Manual of Field Engineering, (1911)

End of official listing