Ancient Monuments

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Cowie Line, pillboxes & anti-tank blocks north east of Whitehill

A Scheduled Monument in Stonehaven and Lower Deeside, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 56.9848 / 56°59'5"N

Longitude: -2.3175 / 2°19'3"W

OS Eastings: 380802

OS Northings: 788228

OS Grid: NO808882

Mapcode National: GBR XD.0B1Q

Mapcode Global: WH8Q8.CPNQ

Entry Name: Cowie Line, pillboxes & anti-tank blocks NE of Whitehill

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1996

Last Amended: 29 January 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6575

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: 20th Century Military and Related: Anti-landing obstacle

Location: Fetteresso

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Stonehaven and Lower Deeside

Traditional County: Kincardineshire


The monument is part of a Second World War anti-invasion 'stop-line' dating from 1940. It is visible as two stone and concrete pillboxes overlooking the Cowie Water, and three sets of concrete anti-tank blocks on the S bank of the Cowie Water. The monument is located on the S bank of the Cowie Water where it is crossed by a single lane road bridge.

The pillboxes are both Type 22 form, with stone walls, concrete roof and brick interior blast walls. Both are six-sided, with an entrance in one side, and firing loops in the remaining five. The anti-tank blocks, together with the artificially steepened bank of the Cowie Water itself, would have restricted the manoeuvres of enemy vehicles.

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 and use is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences around the site, along with the road bridge and the road itself. Also excluded is the line of the modern gas pipeline which was recently installed. The monument was originally scheduled in 1996, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the anti-invasion defences of the Second World War, and the logistics, construction methods, strategies and training involved in this war effort. These defences were part of preparations ordered by the War Office / Scottish Command in 1940 when it was thought likely that German forces would invade from Norway, using beaches in NE Scotland to establish a foothold and then moving south by land. This area was characterised as the UK's 'back door' and the defensive works were deemed vital to deter or at least slow down a German invasion. This is a well-preserved example of a stop-line, utilising and enhancing the natural terrain to provide a strong defensive feature. The monument offers considerable potential to study the relationship between the various elements of the site, and its relationship both with the other elements of the Cowie Line and the wider defences in place around NE Scotland and beyond. The monument has a significant place in the national consciousness as a tangible and powerful reminder of a defining event of the 20th century. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the construction and use of anti-invasion defences in Scotland during the early years of the Second World War.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: NO88NW 35

Barclay, G 2005, 'The Cowie Line: a Second World War 'stop line' west of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire , Proc Soc Antiq Scot 135, 119-161.

Barclay, G 2013, If Hitler Comes - Preparing for Invasion: Scotland 1940, Birlinn Ltd.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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