Contemporary Military Archaelogy, Landscapes, Research, Outreach & Blogging



Pt. 11 The narrow-gauge target railway #survey #archaeology #military

Saturday was a bright sunny day spent finishing up the survey of the second case study area and also doing a conditions survey of the target railway itself (previously I had been concentrating on mapping evidence of later use of the railway area as shown through distribution of blank training rounds and other target features – of which there was a lot).

A “clearance cairn” north of the target railway (c) K Moore 2016 all rights reserved

The railway survives in relatively good condition though it would require clearance of gravel infill and some tumbled stones from the track before it was usable again. Many of the rail mechanisms are still in place and appear to be complete but extremely rusted. These included a railway switch and turntable. For some reason, half of the track runs over wooden sleepers and the other half over concrete ones; again, most of these survive in good condition though about six of the concrete sleepers show signs of disintegration/degradation.

Changing from wooden sleepers to concrete sleepers, and a different style of track (c) K Moore 2016 all rights reserved

There is some evidence of the railway line being used as a track for wheeled vehicles about 2m wide – the whole area is extremely boggy so the track bed may be the most solid route for heavier vehicles. The whole interior and surrounds of the tank area is crossed by narrower tracks suitable for quad-bikes/ATVs used by the farmers, so this reuse of the track may beĀ  the result of military activity, though I would need to ask the farmer and estate manager to confirm.

I also finished the small area north of the derelict tank and found evidence for infantry training, in the form of target panels – wooden frames with three panels each with a foil thermal target attached to the panel.

Three-panel target frame north of the target railway – the foil targets have almost completely disintegrated (c) K Moore 2016 all rights reserved

Unlike in the area around Bellshiel Law long cairn I have not found any blank cartridges or other evidence of small-arms fire. This may be because of the much wetter conditions, softer soil and different ground cover – isolated cartridges are hard enough to spot on dry ground or short grass, due to their colour and small size. However, I tended to find cartridges in concentrations at firing points. If this area north of the railway has been used by troops moving across the slope and firing at these scattered targets, there would be no static firing points for me to identify.


Pt. 7 Tuesday #archaeology #fieldwork #otterburn etc

WARNING: I have safety training and permission from Range Control to access these parts of the OTA. If you want to visit the OTA you must follow all safety and access guidelines and the byelaws.

Tuesday was spent continuing to walk transects over the railway target’s interior area and there is definitely a different assemblage of training finds. It was also a day for wildlife sightings, with two crows chasing a fox, two hares fighting, and a lot of skylarks.

Picture of the day:

A target – made of two 10cm thick armoured panels set into a mound of earth, in the centre of the railway target area (c) K Moore 2016 all rights reserved

The weather was very odd on Tuesday – bands of cloud sweeping rapidly overhead brought intervals of snow and hail in between bursts of very bright sun. I felt like I was in the Zone.

Please email kemoore1 AT sheffield DOT ac DOT uk with any comments. Cheers!

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