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HER Number:MDV48883
Name:Radar Station 300 meters south-west of Hawk's Tor


Royal Air Force Chain Home radar station used to detect approaching enemy aircraft during the Second World War, located 300 meters south-west of Hawk's Tor, a short distance north-west of Wotter. One of a number of Chain Home stations which together with Chain Home Low stations provided effective radar coverage of enemy aircraft. First of its type recorded in the south-west of England. Remains consist of concrete foundations of tower blocks and associated administration and guard buildings, as well as possible gun-emplacements. This site is set within a rich archaeological landscape of prehistoric and medieval settlement remains.


Grid Reference:SX 550 622
Map Sheet:SX56SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishShaugh Prior
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSHAUGH PRIOR

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Bronze age landscapes on Shaugh Moor and Wooter Moor comprising earthworks and walling of enclosures, hut circles, cairns, stone circles and rows, reaves and field systems, and medieval and post medieval field systems

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 1123713
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX56SE/133

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RADAR STATION (World War II - 1940 AD to 1942 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1890, 2300 (Aerial Photograph). SDV169268.

Other details: SMR 52149 (52/49)?.

Price, D. G., 1973, Ancient fields on Shaugh Moor, 91-2 (Article in Serial). SDV147593.

Collis, J., 1983, Field Systems and Boundaries on Shaugh Moor and at Wotter, Dartmoor, 48 (Article in Serial). SDV144058.

Site of anti-aircraft battery at Wotter. Other details: Figure 2.

Pye, A., 1992, Plymouth Fortress Survey (Report - non-specific). SDV167755.

(Site visited during December 1993?)
World War II defensive site located on a south-facing slope on the south-western edge of Dartmoor. Site overlooks the Plym valley and Plymouth and the Sound are visible in distance. Presumably sited to defend against aircraft using Dartmoor and the Plym as navigation aids. No detail of armament and not in FSG (Flight Simulation Group?) list of anti-aircraft sites. Remains consist of a number of concrete hut bases and other buildings that were originally surrounded or covered by earth. No extant gun positions.
Access to the site is via a hardcore track which leads from main road. An associated unmetalled track may be an earlier feature. There is an area of accommodation and service blocks between the tracks and a possible guardhouse adjoins the main entrance. Remainder of buildings arranged round track that branches from main track, consisting of two earth-covered brick shelters, a terraced area possibly a store, and embanked buildings at the junction of the two tracks and at the end of the branch. There are also various toilet blocks and two mast bases on the upslope side of the main complex. In between these is the base of a generator or engine-house.
The mast bases, one of which contains a trig-point or instrument base, are similar to those at Royal Observer Corps (ROC) posts elsewhere, and it may be that the site was a major ROC camp rather than an anti-aircraft battery. There is a possibility that any guns were mobile or sited in temporary emplacements, but this is not consistent with the effort put into the support buildings. Possible gun site would be between the spur road and the main road. Other details: Copy + Plans in HER.

Pye, A. + Woodward, F., 1996, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, 235 (Monograph). SDV167752.

Correctly identified as a radar station.

Brown, I. + Burridge, D. + Clarke, D. + Guy, J. + Hellis, J. + Lowry, B. + Ruckley, N. + Thomas, R., 1996, Untitled Source, 36 (Monograph). SDV337906.

Site interpreted as a 'Chain Home' radar station.

Dodgson, E., 1997, 80 Wing RAF - Memories of the Radio Counter-Measures Unit, 5-8 (Article in Serial). SDV347106.

Site interpreted as a secret electronic counter-measures unit.

Fletcher, M. + Probert, S., 1998, Shaugh Moor, Devon: An Archaeological Survey, 14-18 (Report - Survey). SDV343481.

Interpretation of this site has been difficult and it has been interpreted in the past as a ‘chain home’ radar station and secret electronic counter-measures unit but to date the most convincing explanation is that of a Short-Range Fighter Control site (based on interpretation of the military remains by J. Hellis from the Defence of Britain Project and R. Thomas of the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments in England).
Aerial photographic evidence suggests that the site was built in the winter of 1941/2 or the following spring and had been demolished by January 1946 (Royal Air Force aerial photographs). Local residents have confirmed to the authors that this site was operated by the Royal Air Force.
The site was based around two wooden short wave transmitting and receiving towers and a pair of underground transmitter/receiver blocks. The towers have been removed through the four concrete blocks supporting each survive (plate 6 of report). Some 25 meters distant from each tower are the remains of the transmitter/receiver bunkers, which comprise two single room breezeblock and concrete built structures each with two entrances. The whole was covered by a meter of earth. These were demolished almost immediately after the end of the war, the masts were dismantled and the remainder of the site appears to have been left for demolition at a later date.
Equidistant between the tower supports is the base for a small prefabricated building with a central plinth. This would appear to house an emergency generator for use in case of the failure of the electricity supply from the National Grid.
Between the receiver blocks is a large square reveted platform, probably the site of the duty room. The guardroom and adjacent dog pens lie at the western end of the site and the administration buildings and toilets are to the north of this. A metalled track leading from the Wotter to Shaugh Prior road served the station and the base of a guard hut lies at the entrance.
Royal Air Force installations of this size were generally lightly defended against air attack by a single Bofors gun and two heavy machine guns. On this site the Bofors probably lay in the circular emplacement at the north-western end while machine gun pits could be any of the earthworks and slit trenches around the site.
Accommodation for the service personnel was usually not on site and there is no trace of its presence on Shaugh Moor though it is likely that the service personnel were billeted nearby.
Such sites were built by the Royal Air Force to control fighter aircraft within a relatively small area and were positioned only in places where close air cover was deemed necessary. In this case the station probably controlled a portion of the aircraft intercepting the bomber formations targeting Plymouth. Typically these installations were near the coats and spaced at intervals of around 12 miles. This suggests that there is at least one other similar station to the west of Plymouth in Cornwall. The site on Shaugh Moor is the first of its type to be identified in the south-west.
A car-parking area is currently set within the World War II site and has caused some limited vehicular damage extending northwards. Other details: Figure 10, plates 5-7.

Dobinson, C. S., 2000, Acoustics and radar, 161 (Report - non-specific). SDV325097.

A Chain Home radar station located at Hawkstor (SX551623 - Dobinson quotes a slightly different grid reference), known as CH15M. It was established by 18 April 1941. Chain Home stations commonly comprised transmission and receiver blocks, four 73.2 meter timber receiver aerial towers, four 107 meter steel transmitter aerial towers that stood on concrete pads, and other buildings such as dispersed accommodation huts, guard huts and standby set houses. From 1940 defensive measures were installed at radar stations, including Light Anti-Aircraft gun emplacements, pill boxes, road blocks and air raid shelters. Other details: Appendices.

Anderton, M. J., 2000, Twentieth Century Military Recording Project: World War Two Radar Stations, 61 (Report - Survey). SDV347108.

A Chain Home station at Hawkstor. This was an Advanced Chain Home station. Aerial photography from 1998 shows that the bases of two aerial towers survive at the site, as do the bases of the buildings.

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

Passmore, M. + Passmore, A., 2008, Royal Air Force Air-Defence Radar Stations in Devon. The Second World War and Beyond (Monograph). SDV342115.

Detailed description of the site.

Bullers, R. F., 2011, Hawk's Tor Radar Station (Correspondence). SDV347755.

The Royal Air Force Air Defence Radar Museum have provided an up to date interpretation of the site at Hawk’s Tor, stating that this site was in fact a Chain Home station, initially designed as a reporting radar station with control effected by a controller at Sector Operations Rooms reading the plots off the General Situation Map and giving instructions to the fighter formation leader (known as Sector Control).
Chain Home stations were equipped with A-scope radars before more effective Plan Position Indicator (PPI) screens became available. Chain Home stations were accurate in range but subject to fluctuations in bearing so individual reports were passed to the Filter Centre where an officer decided which plots were most accurate. When PPI screens became available they were issued to Chain Home Low stations (which were positioned between the Chain Home stations to detect lower flying aircraft) and later Ground Control Interception stations, providing an effective radar picture of the local area and a rotating beam. Some Chain Home stations continued in operation until the 1950s when development in radar techniques rendered them obsolete.
Contradicting the Royal Commission’s interpretation (1998) Hawk’s Tor is stated to have been a Chain Home reporting station with equipment that was not short range; having in post-war times a range of over 200 miles on high altitude aircraft. Furthermore, It should be recognised that Chain Home stations around the United Kingdom provided effective overlapping detecting coverage to Sector Control where the Controller at the Sector Operations Centre gained an overall recognised air picture (not just over a relatively small area, as indicated in the 1998 interpretation). Other details: Stored with HER worksheets.

Passmore, M. + Passmore, A., 2011, Royal Air Force Air-Defence Radar Station Hawks Tor, Dartmoor, 2-4 (Pamphlet). SDV360268.

SX5510 6226. Royal Air Force Hawks Tor was a chain home (CH) station; a long-range, high-looking radar station opened in 1940 to locate aircraft. Site can be found to the north of the road linking the villages of Shaugh Prior and Wotter. The station was fairly short-lived and ceased operations in 1942. Several structures can be identified, including a collapsed shelter, trackways and foundations of buildings.

Various, 2018-2019, PALs Condition Recording forms, SM1 (Worksheet). SDV362781.

Visited 24/05/2019. Mainly concrete floor bases and partial breeze block wall bases remaining. Floor of administration block is breaking up. Concrete throughout site is eroding due to weathering, floor bases are being covered by vegetation encroachment.
Little human & livestock damage.
Gun emplacement is hard to distinguish in landscape with vegetation encroachment, coarse bushes.
Photos X 5 taken

Various, 2018-2019, PALs Condition Recording forms, SM2 (Worksheet). SDV362781.

Visited 24/05/2019. This referes to the second area to be visited - east area.
Existing site description very good. Short lived large site.
The two mast bases remain stable with minor weathering of concrete. Duty room & receiver/ transmitter blocks have extensive vegetation encroachment. Remains of walls and demolished sections are eroding due to weathering. Post demolition little remains of the north bunker (outline at one end & sections of demolished wall). Southern bunker only partially damaged as part of site demolition with walls and roof remaining. Access into bunker at the north east side (see photo 5). Photos X 5 taken

Various, 2018-2019, PALs Condition Recording photographs, SM1 (Photograph). SDV363073.

Visited 24/05/2019. Photos X 5 taken
1) Admin block base looking south
2) Admin block and overall site looking west
3) Toilet block base looking south west
4) Guard room base looking west
5) Gun emplacement looking east

Various, 2018-2019, PALs Condition Recording photographs, SM2 (Photograph). SDV363073.

Visited 24/05/2019 Photos X 5 taken
1) West mast bases Looking west
2) East mast bases Looking south west
3) Remains of receiver/transmitter block Looking west
4) Remains of bottom edges of duty room Looking north west
5) South bunker showing entrance Looking south south west

Sources / Further Reading

SDV144058Article in Serial: Collis, J.. 1983. Field Systems and Boundaries on Shaugh Moor and at Wotter, Dartmoor. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 41. A5 Paperback. 48.
SDV147593Article in Serial: Price, D. G.. 1973. Ancient fields on Shaugh Moor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 105. Unknown. 91-2.
SDV167752Monograph: Pye, A. + Woodward, F.. 1996. The Historic Defences of Plymouth. The Historic Defences of Plymouth. A4 Paperback. 235.
SDV167755Report - non-specific: Pye, A.. 1992. Plymouth Fortress Survey. A4 Unbound.
SDV169268Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2300.
SDV325097Report - non-specific: Dobinson, C. S.. 2000. Acoustics and radar. Twentieth Century Fortifications in England. VII. A4 Stapled + Digital. 161.
SDV337906Monograph: Brown, I. + Burridge, D. + Clarke, D. + Guy, J. + Hellis, J. + Lowry, B. + Ruckley, N. + Thomas, R.. 1996. 20th Century Defences in Britain: An Introductory Guide. Number 12. A5 Paperback. 36.
SDV342115Monograph: Passmore, M. + Passmore, A.. 2008. Royal Air Force Air-Defence Radar Stations in Devon. The Second World War and Beyond. Royal Air Force Air-Defence Radar Stations in Devon. The Second World War a. A4 Paperback.
SDV343481Report - Survey: Fletcher, M. + Probert, S.. 1998. Shaugh Moor, Devon: An Archaeological Survey. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 14-18.
SDV347106Article in Serial: Dodgson, E.. 1997. 80 Wing RAF - Memories of the Radio Counter-Measures Unit. Defence of Britain Project. 9. Unknown. 5-8.
SDV347107Report - Survey: English Heritage. 2005. Military survey information. English Heritage. Digital. [Mapped feature: #93335 ]
SDV347108Report - Survey: Anderton, M. J.. 2000. Twentieth Century Military Recording Project: World War Two Radar Stations. Unknown. 61.
SDV347755Correspondence: Bullers, R. F.. 2011. Hawk's Tor Radar Station. Letter. A4 Stapled.
SDV360268Pamphlet: Passmore, M. + Passmore, A.. 2011. Royal Air Force Air-Defence Radar Station Hawks Tor, Dartmoor. A Brief Introduction to Twentieth-Century Military and Civil Defence Archaeology in Devon. Digital. 2-4.
SDV362781Worksheet: Various. 2018-2019. PALs Condition Recording forms. PALs Condition Assessment Project Forms. Digital. SM1.
SDV363073Photograph: Various. 2018-2019. PALs Condition Recording photographs. PALs Condition Assessment Project Forms. Digital. SM1.

Associated Monuments

MDV48879Related to: Boundary Stone, Shaugh Moor (Monument)
MDV2591Related to: Field system near Hawk's Tor (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4967 - Survey of Shaugh Moor

Date Last Edited:Jul 29 2019 4:49PM