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HER Number:MDV55113
Name:Rippon Tor Small Arms Firing Range


Rifle range established in 1942 and which continued in use into the 1960s. The range which is about 600 metres long and 80 metres wide is aligned broadly north-south for firing upslope. All of its major components survive in situ including the six flat-topped earthwork firing points, the target structure and ancilliary structure to the east, and the butts. There is also a stable and a latrine block near the southern end and a service road.


Grid Reference:SX 750 735
Map Sheet:SX77SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishAshburton
Ecclesiastical ParishASHBURTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX77SE50
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1413094
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77SE/209

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RIFLE RANGE (Constructed, World War II - 1939 AD (Between) to 1945 AD (Between))

Full description

Jury, R., 1995, Rippon Tor Small Arms Firing Range (Worksheet). SDV292011.

Site visit 24th December 1995. Rippon Tor Small Arms Firing Range. Substantial remains of a 12 target 400 metre small arms range. Part of the east Dartmoor ranges which included the field firing area of Scorriton Down (SX6868). The main ranges closed in the late 1940's/early 1950's but Rippon Tor continued until the 1960's.

Passmore, M. + Passmore, J. + Passmore, A., 2010, Rippon Tor Rifle Range, 1-11 (Report - Assessment). SDV344778.

Rippon Tor Rifle Range was established following the outbreak of the Second World War and was closed in 1977 on the expiry of the lease. Detailed description of the remaining structures recorded in May 2010 by the authors. Possible pumping station recorded at SX74507381 next to the road between Cold East Cross and Halshanger Cross. Water storage structure described at SX74907380, close to the butts, measuring 5.7 metres by 3.8 metres, enclosing four galvanised storage tanks. Retaining wall of the stop butt estimated at 55 metres long by 15.5 metres wide and around 9.2 meters high. This is an impressive brick structure supported by nineteen buttresses on the north side and six buttresses on both the east and west sides. The stop butt (or back stop) is a bank of sand or gravel set within the three retaining walls. The markers’ gallery consists of twelve target frames and associated winding mechanisms, housed in a concrete, earth-covered bunker. The frames have been identified as being the Hythe pattern. Gallery was constructed of cantilevered concrete sections on a brick wall. This structure was for the range operators to raise and lower targets, patch shot holes and signal adjustments to firing points, where necessary. Remains of seat supports can still be seen in situ. A brick structure is located at the eastern side of the markers’ gallery which served as the target store and workshop. There are four earthwork firing points on the range, approximately 91.5 metres apart.
To the south west of the main site, other ancillary buildings include a toilet block with seven cubicles and a possible troop shelter. This consists of a long building comprising twenty-four ‘bays’ and is constructed of concrete block with an asbestos roof. Each bay is defined by a reinforced concrete framework over which lie wooden battens that support the roof and the rear wall has a number of buttresses. This structure has previously been identified as stables but it is unlikely that stables would have been in use during the Second World War. This structure is more likely to be a troop shelter for those awaiting their turn on the range. Brick plinths noted may have supported benches. A small room at one end of the structure was recorded. The purpose for this was not ascertained. A possible vehicle park was identified beyond the troop shelter and adjacent to the highway and to the track that leads to the butts.

Newman, P., 2013, An Archaeological Assessment of Halshanger and Horridge Commons, Dartmoor, Devon, 12-13, 15, Table 1 (Report - Assessment). SDV356396.

Rifle range installed in 1942 as part of the military training effort on Dartmoor in World War II. It continued in use until the 1960s. It is one of the clearest and most intact relics of military training on Dartmoor. Its survival is a reminder of a dark period in recent British history but as such is part of an increasingly rare resource within the landscape. Although a comparatively modern feature it is a significant component of Dartmoor and Devon's heritage.
The range is aligned broadly north-south for firing uphill and is 600 metres long by about 80 metres wide. It was originally surrounded by a wire fence with concrete posts. The fence has long gone but the posts survive. All of the major components of the range survive in situ including the six flat-topped earthwork firing points, the target structure (SX75027383) and ancilliary structure to the east, and the butts (SX75017386). There is also a stable (SX74947354) and a latrine block (SX74997358) near the southern end and a service road.
The butts is one of the most impressive 20th century military structures on Dartmoor. It ccomprises a high hearthen bank reinforced on the north side at at the ends by a buttressed brick wall. The targetry was contained within a long narrow structure with a concrete floor, brick foundation walls and a curved, concrete upper wall and roof. The exterior of the structure is protected by an earthen embankment. The targets were raised by a series of pulleys mounted in steel frames which were activated by an operator in a rectangular building at the eastern end. This building is now roofless but the target area is mostly in good condition. Parts of the targetry mechanisms remain. The earthwork mounds used as firing points all survive intact although suffer from rabbit burrowing. This part of the range is also affected by bracken and gorse.
The latrine and stable block are both still standing although the stable, which is a prefabricated structure, is in poor condition.
To the west of the targetry area are large excavations where earth and stone for the butts and firing points was removed.

Newman, P., 2013, Halshanger Sites Visited and Confirmed (Report - Survey). SDV351113.

Ordnance Survey, 2014, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV355681.

Rifle Range marked.

Historic England, 2021-2022, NRHE to HER website, Accessed 07/06/2022 (Website). SDV364039.

[Defence of Britain Non Anti Invasion Database UID: 2424] Site of a small arms firing range that was used during World War II. It was probably constructed between 1939 and 1945 and at the time of the Defence of Britain survey the site was classed to be in a fair condition. The site is located on Halshanger Common. (Migrated Defence of Britain Project database; can be searched on-line through the Archaeology Data Service at http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/specColl/dob/index.cfm).

Sources / Further Reading

SDV292011Worksheet: Jury, R.. 1995. Rippon Tor Small Arms Firing Range. Defence of Britain Project.
SDV344778Report - Assessment: Passmore, M. + Passmore, J. + Passmore, A.. 2010. Rippon Tor Rifle Range. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1-11.
SDV351113Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2013. Halshanger Sites Visited and Confirmed. Digital.
SDV355681Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2014. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #95084 ]
SDV356396Report - Assessment: Newman, P.. 2013. An Archaeological Assessment of Halshanger and Horridge Commons, Dartmoor, Devon. South-West Landscape Investigations Report. A4 Bound + Digital. 12-13, 15, Table 1.
SDV364039Website: Historic England. 2021-2022. NRHE to HER website. https://nrhe-to-her.esdm.co.uk/NRHE. Website. Accessed 07/06/2022.

Associated Monuments

MDV25217Related to: Parallel Reave System on the south-eastern edge of Halshanger Common (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6433 - Assessment of Halsanger Common, Horridge Common and Rippon Tor
  • EDV6836 - Rippon Tor Premier Archaeological Landscape survey
  • EDV8593 - Survey at Rippon Tor Rifle Range,

Date Last Edited:Jun 7 2022 9:51AM