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Ness Battery, gun emplacements 300m SSE of, Stromness

A Scheduled Monument in Stromness and South Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 58.9505 / 58°57'1"N

Longitude: -3.3061 / 3°18'21"W

OS Eastings: 324956

OS Northings: 1007762

OS Grid: HY249077

Mapcode National: GBR L562.G7R

Mapcode Global: WH6B1.59YB

Entry Name: Ness Battery, gun emplacements 300m SSE of, Stromness

Scheduled Date: 5 September 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13478

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: 20th Century Military and Related: Battery

Location: Stromness

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: Stromness and South Isles

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument is a First World War coastal battery, built in 1915 and in use until 1918. The battery comprises three concrete gun emplacements and two magazines. The gun emplacements are arranged in a horse-shoe shape facing SW and S across the NW approach to Scapa Flow, the home of the British Grand Fleet. Each of the gun emplacements has two ready-use ammunition lockers built into the concrete parapet on either side. The emplacements are connected to one magazine with double semi-circular rock-cut passages and the most westerly emplacement has a single passage to the second magazine. With the exception of the guns, which were removed at the end of the First World War, the battery survives in very good condition with many of its original features intact. The coastal battery is situated on a headland to the S of Stromness, 300m SSE of the Second World War Ness Battery complex. It is situated close to the coast, now within a golf course, at around 10m above OD with good views across Hoy Sound to the S and SW.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the top 300mm of the golf course fairway that falls within the scheduled area, and the top 300mm of a landscaped area that runs between the westernmost emplacement and the W magazine to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as it has an inherent potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, particularly the defences built and manned as part of the extensive effort to defend Britain during the First World War, and specifically the key British naval harbour of Scapa Flow. The monument retains its field characteristics to a marked degree. The three gun emplacements and two magazines survive virtually intact, except for the guns. The battery is of particular interest as it is an unusual example, consisting of three gun emplacements, with smaller 5-inch guns, as opposed to the typical pairing of 6-inch guns. Its significance is further enhanced by the potential to compare this battery with numerous other contemporary defences in this area. This battery is the best-preserved of three batteries constructed near Stromness to protect Hoy Sound, the NW entrance to Scapa Flow. These batteries were particularly important because, unlike the other batteries defending Scapa Flow, they could not be supported by boom defences, anti-submarine defences or blockships as the strong currents in Hoy Sound prevented the deployment of such defences. If this monument was to be lost or damaged, it would significantly affect our ability to understand the nature and scale of the efforts made to defend Britain against enemy naval threats in the First World War, and diminish the associations between communities and their collective experience or memory of the war. These monumental concrete structures are a highly visible and powerful reminder of one of the defining events of the 20th century and of modern human history.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Other Information

RCAHMS records the monument as HY20 NW 27.01.


Dorman, J 1996, Orkney coast batteries, London, 27, 41.

Stell, G 2010, Orkney at War: Defending Scapa Flow. Volume 1 World War 1, Kirkwall, 52, 101-6.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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