A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
April 5, 2023
Military Target Practice on the Langstone and Lints Tor
The history of military use of north Dartmoor for live firing is well documented with many specialised ranges and tramways using static and moving targets being used over the last 130 years following a permanent camp being established at Okehampton in 1892. One hundred years before this, the earliest record of the army training on Dartmoor was 1794 on Ugborough Down. In spite of the amount of dedicated infrastructure for firing, it is unfortunate that there are at least two locations (there are probably many more), where an ancient antiquity (a standing stone) and a natural object (a tor) have been used by the military as makeshift targets.
The first example relates to 1944, when American machine gunners are reported to have used the Langstone standing stone on Peter Tavy Great Common for target practice. The ‘pock’ marks can still be seen on the west face of this ancient antiquity today.
Unfortunately the second example of the military of military using makeshift targets, lead on 9th August 1961 to a member of the Dartmoor Rambling Club being injured at Lints Tor. The rambler in question received a serious hand injury, which required hospital treatment, when a piece of rock weighing about a hundredweight (around 50kg) fell from a fractured face of Lints Tor. The military had been using the tor as target practice and subsequently had weakened a part of the tor, which led to the accident. This information was published in ‘The Dartmoor Diary 1991’ by the Dartmoor National Park as part of their 40th anniversary year. The author has always been intrigued by this unfortunate episode from over 60 years ago and during a recent visit to the tor decided to see if there was any evidence of shell or bullet marks. The author researched the density of granite and found it to be 2700kg / m3, which means the piece of granite which fell on the hiker would have been around 0.3m x 0.25m x 0.25m (12in x 10in x 10in), which is pretty large.
This post includes photographs of both these locations, the latter (Lints Tor) being more of an exploratory record whilst looking for evidence of the 1961 incident.