Kielder: A semi-militarized landscape?
By Chris Pearson
Maybe it’s because I’m finishing off a project on Militarized Landscapes but I now tend to quickly spot and note the militarized features of supposedly civilian landscapes (the signs for a MoD firing range on a recent trip to the Yorkshire Dales, the TA centre up the road from where I live and so on…).
Needless to say, I found myself looking for the militarized at Kielder Forest and Water Park. Of course, Kielder is not as militarized as Otterburn military range that lies just a few miles away, and which I know through the work of geographer Rachel Woodward (Military Geographies ). But it does have militarized features. Not least is the forest itself. The UK government established the Forestry Commission after the First World War, a conflict which had sharply exposed the shallowness of Britain’s timber resources. The Forestry Commission then selected sites, such as Kielder, to create strategic forest reserves that could be used in wartime.
The forest does not display its militarized origins today. More visible from Kielder are the military communications facilities located on the top of one of the surrounding hills. And, as Jonty Hall informed us, Kielder Dam is now an Economic Key Point, a site subject to extra security precautions because of its strategic importance.
So I would say that Kielder is a semi-militarized landscape. It serves as a reminder that the boundary between civilian and military landscapes is often fluid and that the militarization of landscape spills out from military bases and battlefields.