MSO7100 - World War Two searchlight battery at Blackpitts (Monument)


The remains of a World War Two searchlight battery, either side of the road at Blackpits, comprising the footings and platforms of Nissen huts, traces of sanitation gulleys, and an octagonal searchlight plinth.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

"A searchlight battery was installed to the north of Blackpits bungalow to guide outgoing bombers from southern Wales on their way south to the continent". [1] The wall footings of three Nissen huts are visible to the west of the modern road at SS 7636 4182. To the east of the road, at SS 7642 4181, are the fragmentary remains of former agricultural buildings which have recently been levelled. These may have been reused buildings of military origin. Some 100 metres to the north is an octagonal plinth, a hollow of similar size, and an earthwork platform. The whole group seems to represent the searchlight battery associated accommodation area. The group of three former Nissen huts lie close to the modern road within the northeast corner of the field, and are arranged in a compact block: one lying north to south, two lying west to east adjacent to it. Each platform defines an area measuring 11.2 metres by 4.8 metres. Traces of sanitation arrangements in the form of shallow gullys are visible to the south of the complex. The former building complex to the east of the road is now little more than a spread of rubble, although wall footings and concrete flooring are visible in places. The remains are too uninteligible to be interpreted. To the northeast at SS 7642 4190 is a rectangular platform with traces of concrete wall footings on it. It appears to be the site of a single nissen hut, but probably adapted for some agricultural use. To the north, in the same rough pasture field, at SS 7650 4192, is an octagonal concrete plinth 1.6 metres across. It is built on a square concrete footing, itself supporting an octagon of rough blockwork. This has been finished with a concrete screed to give a base, at the same level as the ground surface on its northern side. Some 31 metres to the west is a subsquare hollow 2.3 metres across and 0.4 metres deep. A concrete block and pieces of concrete lie on its northern lip. The feature is probably the robbing pit left after the removal of a second octagonal plinth. It is clear that these two bases supported the searchlights. Some 51 metres west of the concrete octagon is a subrectangular platform 11 metres across, cut into the slope on its upslope or nothern side by 0.4 metres, with a corresponding apron scarp on the south side. The feature does not appear recent, but nevertheless is most likely to be associated with the searchlight battery. Surveyed at 1:2,500 scale. [2] The complex of military structures described above is visible on aerial photographs as concrete footings and level turf platforms. The group of three structures at SS 7642 4181 appear to have been surrounded by a wall or bank, which is visible as an earthwork on photographs taken in 1946. Additional platforms and structures can also be seen. At SS 7646 4175 three platforms can be seen, two rectangular measuring 12 metres long and 4.2 metres wide, and a roughly circular platform measuring 6.9 metres in diameter. These structures are only visible on the 1946 photographs and presumably were removed. [3,4] SS 76341 41788. A ditch or gully measuring 0.8 metres wide and 0.15 metres deep runs downslope and is visible over a length of 16 metres between dense areas of rushes. [5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. J Edwards, Tiverton, Devon, former Sargeant involved in admin of Exmoor Firing Ranges.
  • <2>XY Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 10 May 1994. [Mapped feature: #38300 ]
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. 106G/UK/1501 3187-88 (13 May 1946).
  • <4> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SE. MD002183.
  • <5> Report: Kirkham, G. and Taylor, S.. 2008. Exmoor Mire Restoration Project: Archaeological Survey on Moorland Areas at Alderman's Barrow Allotment, Blackpitts-Exe Head, North Twitchen, Roosthitchen and Verney's Allotment. Cornwall County Council Historic Environment Service (Projects). P. 12, no.1.
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1039140, Extant 26 May 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park Authority HER number: MSO7100
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MEM24378
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12409
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO482
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE120
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1039140
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35605



Grid reference Centred SS 7642 4183 (203m by 240m) Enhanced with SMO7566 NMP data
Map sheet SS74SE

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Record last edited

May 26 2021 10:39AM


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