Target operator bunker, cable trenching and three target pits 650m north of Hopehead


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.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 89584 97426

Reasons for Designation

The Army Training Estate Otterburn (ATEO) is one of eight 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 (8094ha) 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 target operator bunker, cable trenching and three target pits 650m north of Hopehead survive well with a range of component features intact. They were constructed as part of a wider group of five bunkers and mark the highly significant change at Otterburn from an Artillery Range to an All Arms Training Area in the late 1950s. They are not thought to be paralleled by similar structures anywhere in the United Kingdom and hence they are an important and highly significant survival. Taken as a group they represent a major phase in the development of the Otterburn ATE. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of the target pits containing the remains of the metal target mechanism and their associated cable trenches.


The monument is situated immediately outside the eastern boundary of the Davyshiel Field Firing Box on the Otterburn Army Training Estate. It includes the upstanding and buried remains of a target operator bunker including the target lever apparatus, three target pits and the distribution box and associated cable trenches. This bunker is part of a group of five, which formed a small arms training area constructed under the provisions of the Thurlow Plan from 1962 to 1964. The other four target operator bunkers are the subjects of separate schedulings.

The bunker is of standard form and dimensions, and facing east, it is visible as a square blockhouse of concrete construction, measuring 2.4m across and approximately 2.3m high within walls 0.3m thick. A single narrow and wide embrasure measuring 2.1m by 0.2m with vertical metal bars pierces its north side. The blockhouse is entered from a subterranean passage, 0.76m wide, along the full length of its eastern side, through a reinforced metal door. The metal fixings for a second door are visible on the east wall of the bunker at the other end of the passage. The entrance passage itself is approached from the north by a descending flight of steps, which extend 2.75m to the north, protected by concrete blast walls 0.24m thick. A third projecting blast wall protects the western side of the blockhouse. The bunker is capped with earth and turf 0.2m high, and its south, east and west sides are encased in an earthen mound of soil 2m wide. The original bunker number V written in white paint is retained on the north end of the blast wall, which flanks the western side of the stairway.

Internally, the blockhouse is lined with asbestos sheets and has a wooden shelf and an electricity supply fixed to its south wall. The bunker housed a system of cables and levers which military personnel operated manually to raise and lower three remote targets across the firing area. The target apparatus, consisting of a system of levers and cables, is housed in a wooden frame situated against the north wall immediately below the embrasure. The cables leading from this mechanism emerged through a rectangular recess situated immediately below the embrasure and were fed into a wooden distribution box situated some 4m in front of north side of the bunker. The concrete base of this box is visible containing the metal pickets and shackles which fed the cables in the direction of each of the targets. The trenches, which contained the cables running to the targets, are visible as linear depressions approximately 0.4m deep, which in places retain metal fixings.

This bunker operated three remote targets, situated 62m west, 50m north and 24m south east of the bunker; the pits which housed the targets are each visible as wood lined rectangular hollows 2.5m by 2m wide and up to 0.3m deep. Each contains the metal remains of the target mechanism.

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:


Title: Thurlow Plan Phase II: Davyshiel Area Tgt Op Bunkers 4 & 5 Source Date: 1963 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Plan


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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