Observation post 780m north west of Blackburn Crag


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021029

Date first listed: 06-Oct-2003


Ordnance survey map of Observation post 780m north west of Blackburn Crag
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Dec-2018 at 17:47:27.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Alwinton


National Grid Reference: NT 82711 04501


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 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 (8094ha) acres 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 observation post 780m north west of Blackburn Crag survives well in an unmodified state with a range of its component features intact. It was constructed as part of a wider group of four bunkers, which represent a major phase of artillery training between World War I and II. These are rare examples of structures of this kind with the only parallel being single examples at Salisbury Plain and Okehampton Training Areas. Hence they are an important survival in the history of military training in England.


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


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of a bunker situated on the Otterburn Army Training Estate. The bunker, which served as an observation post known as OP 10, is now redundant, and is one of a group of four on the Training Estate situated in two pairs. The other three bunkers are the subjects of separate schedulings. The bunker was intended to provide shelter during training for parties of 16 Forward Observation Officers guiding artillery fire into the impact area from mobile guns placed outside. The exact date of its construction is uncertain but a similar structure, thought to provide a parallel for the four Redesdale examples, was constructed on the Okehampton Artillery Range in 1923/24.

The bunker, which faces north east to command views over the Redesdale Impact Area, is visible as a rectangular blockhouse with projecting triangular wings encased in an earth and stone mound. The blockhouse is constructed of reinforced concrete and measures 23m long, 2.5m wide, and it stands to about 2.1m above ground level at its front face. The walls, which are splinterproof, are 0.45m thick. Four rectangular recessed embrasures 0.46m deep and 2.1m wide pierce its front face with a concrete lintel over, which projects 0.15m and is 0.5m high. The earthen mound which encases the bunker has spread to about 2m beyond the rear wall of the bunker and stands to about 1.5m high. The front face of the bunker projects above the level of the earth mound to a height of 0.8m.

Entry to the bunker is gained at the east end of the north face by a series of descending concrete steps, which project 3.5m from the front face of the bunker. The stairway is protected on each side by a brick blast wall, which gives access to an offset passageway about 0.8m wide. Internally, the metal fixings for the provision of a narrow wooden shelf that originally ran the full length of the bunker immediately beneath the line of embrasures are visible. A drainage gully at floor level runs the length of the bunker immediately below the embrasures. It passes through the east wall of the bunker into a small drain within the offset passageway. The concrete base and flue opening of a potbellied stove are retained in the south west corner of the bunker. Evidence of the corrugated iron shuttering used in its construction is exhibited in the roof.

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: 32788

Legacy System: RSM


Francis, Paul , (2002)
Thomas, Roger J C , (2002)

End of official listing