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HER Number:MDV28947
Name:Military Practice Trenches to the north of Rowtor, Okehampton Hamlets


Fragmentary remains of numerous practice trenches on the northern flank of Rowtor, on the west edge of a military road


Grid Reference:SX 594 923
Map Sheet:SX59SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishOkehampton Hamlets
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishOKEHAMPTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX59SE/108

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PRACTICE TRENCH (XIX to XX - 1900 AD to 1950 AD (Between))

Full description

English Heritage, 12/02/2015, Sandpit Practice Trenches, circa 700m to the North of the Summit of Rowtor, Dartmoor Forest, Devon (Correspondence). SDV358483.

Notification of completion of the initial assessment of the Sandpit Practice Trenches to the north of the summit of Rowtor for possible scheduling as part of the assessment of the military remains on Okehampton Artillery Range.
The fragmentary remains of two practice trench systems are located on the northern flank of Rowtor, on the west edge of a military road. The trenches lie either side of a sand pit quarry. The edge of the quarry appears to cut into some of the trenches to the south, suggesting that the pit post-dates one or both of the trench systems. The quarry appears on the 1898 Ordnance Survey map of the Range, suggesting that these are late-C19 trenches created to train during the Boer War conflict. The vestiges of the trench systems can be seen on 1940s and 1960s aerial photographs. See report for descriptions of the two trench systems.

National Monument Record, 12/04/1969, SX5991, 2/223 (Aerial Photograph). SDV247639.

Royal Air Force, 1946 - 1949, Royal Air Force Aerial Photographs, 2082/3380-90 (Aerial Photograph). SDV342938.

Photograph taken on 19th May 1947.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

Lines of military trenches on the north slope of Rough Tor. Those to the south of openwork are not visible on the 1947RAF verticals. The single length of trenching to the north of the openwork at sx59509247, shows up in the 1946 RAF verticals.

Wessex Archaeology, 2001, Okehampton Camp Devon. Archaeological Desk Based Assessment and Earthwork Survey, 14, Appendix 1 (Report - Survey). SDV360511.

Ditch presumed to be related to military activity. Aerial photographs show that practice and air raid shelter trenches were constructed in the immediate vicinity of Okehampton Camp.

English Heritage, 2005, Military survey information (Report - Survey). SDV347107.

Features visible on survey.

Historic England, 2015, Case Name: Okehampton Artillery Range: Sandpit Practice Trenches (Schedule Document). SDV359234.

After examining all the records and other relevant information and having carefully considered the
archaeological interest of this case, the criteria for scheduling are not fulfilled. Therefore, the practice
trenches next to the sandpit are not recommended for scheduling.
The practice trenches adjacent to the sandpit quarry at Okehampton Artillery Range are not recommended for scheduling for the following principal reasons:
Period: although it has been suggested that these earthworks are an early example of practice trenches, it is not possible at this time to securely date these features;
Survival: although still discernible, the survival of these trenches is relatively fragmentary and in comparison to other scheduled First World War practice trenches, this set does not demonstrate the same level of intactness or variety;
Group value: although there is not sufficient evidence to support scheduling at this time, the earthworks have strong group value with the other related military training features.

National Monument Record, 2017, Pastscape, (2003 source) (Website). SDV359964.

Centred SX 59529234. The fragmentary remains of two trench systems lie adjacent to the military ring road on the northern flank of Rowtor.
The systems are separated by a gravel quarry and are of two types:
Centred SX 59489250. A relatively well-preserved section of front line recessed fire trench. Though backfilled this feature survives as a shallow earthwork a maximum of 0.25 metres deep. It is crenellated in plan preserving the outlines of the main trench and the recessed firing positions, 3.5 to 4.0 metres wide, at intervals of 9.3 metres. The front (eastern) edges of the recesses still display a low cutaway formerly used as an elbow rest. At the southern end of the trench the recesses widen to 6.0 to 7.5 metres wide at intervals of 11 to 15 metres. Traces of two communications trenches link this trench to a slightly sunken track to the west. There is no evidence to suggest the former presence of second or reserve line trenches to accompany these features.
Centred SX 59499227. Approximately 0.2 hectares of very disturbed traversed fire trenches, communications trenches and reserve trenches. These remains have been severly damaged by subsequent shellfire and other military training activities and in general survive as narrow channels 0.7 metres wide and a maximum of 0.2 metres deep. Such is the extent of later damage that it is not possible to determine if more than one system has been dug in this area. The less damaged sections display a zig-zag pattern with legs of 5.0 metres while the communications trenches follow the same pattern with legs of between 6.5 and 9.0 metres (citing Probert, S. A. J., 18/08/2003, English Heritage Field Investigation).

Sources / Further Reading

SDV247639Aerial Photograph: National Monument Record. 12/04/1969. SX5991. National Monument Record Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 2/223.
SDV319854Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV342938Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 - 1949. Royal Air Force Aerial Photographs. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Digital). 2082/3380-90.
SDV347107Report - Survey: English Heritage. 2005. Military survey information. English Heritage. Digital.
SDV358483Correspondence: English Heritage. 12/02/2015. Sandpit Practice Trenches, circa 700m to the North of the Summit of Rowtor, Dartmoor Forest, Devon. Notification of Assessment of Monument for Inclusion on the Schedule of Monuments. Digital. [Mapped features: #86285 ; #86286 ]
SDV359234Schedule Document: Historic England. 2015. Case Name: Okehampton Artillery Range: Sandpit Practice Trenches. Reject at Initial Assessment Letter.
SDV359964Website: National Monument Record. 2017. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website. (2003 source).
SDV360511Report - Survey: Wessex Archaeology. 2001. Okehampton Camp Devon. Archaeological Desk Based Assessment and Earthwork Survey. Wessex Archaeology Report. 50171. A4 Comb Bound. 14, Appendix 1.

Associated Monuments

MDV58789Related to: Cairnfield on the western flank of Halstock Down (Monument)
MDV120734Related to: Earthwork banks on the western flank of Halstock Down (Monument)
MDV27372Related to: Quarry to the north of Rough Tor, Okehampton Hamlets (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7620 - Okehampton Artillary Range
  • EDV8007 - Okehampton Camp Devon: Archaeological Desk-based Assessment and Earthwork Survey (Ref: 50171.01)

Date Last Edited:Jan 18 2019 1:54PM