This is one of three rifle ranges located on the south-west facing slope of Mynydd y Garn-fawr which rises above Blaenavon to the north-east of the town (see also NPRNs 419603-5). The history of military activity at this location can be traced back to 1861 when 'the Inspector General visited this place on Tuesday last and examined the grounds for the erection of the butts for rifle practice. Both ranges were approved'. (note in the Monmouthshire Merlin of 25.05.1861).
The range was clearly in place by 1882 when it appears on the Ordnance Survey first edition 25-inch map. The map portrays two ranges (as reported above), each annotated ‘Rifle Range (Volunteer)’. This is a three hundred yard range aligned north-east by south-west across the contours and is portrayed with firing positions at 200 yards and 300 yards from the targets which lie at the north-east, uphill, end.
Field investigation revealed only slight features that may or may not have been related to this early range.
SO 25711006: target position shown on first edition map. On the immediate north side of a hollowed trail which is still in use. The target area is not shown as an earthwork and no structural remains were found on what is the upper scarp of the path. However, the rising ground of the spoil tip immediately behind it will have been used as the ‘stop butt’ and this feature is unchanged since its nineteenth century portrayal on maps.
SO 25620991: 200 yard firing position. Shown as a box feature. Nothing seen on the ground though the location is adjacent to spoil tips not portrayed on the map.
SO2556209829: 300 yard firing position. Shown as a dot on a trackway on the north side of a stream. A low mound 3m (N-S) by 2m at this location may be a natural feature but was perhaps used as a rifle mound. A nearby box feature shown on the map, although ‘off-line’ at SO 25590984, may have indicated the position but no trace of it was seen.
The range probably went out of use before the end of the nineteenth century as it does not appear on the second (1901) edition of the map or on later editions.
The other range remained in use (see NPRN 419603) and was further developed.
David Leighton, RCAHMW, 24 February 2014