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Rhicullen training trenches, 200m north and 300m north west of Wester Rhicullen

A Scheduled Monument in Cromarty Firth, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.7192 / 57°43'9"N

Longitude: -4.1941 / 4°11'38"W

OS Eastings: 269402

OS Northings: 872055

OS Grid: NH694720

Mapcode National: GBR J80B.3JW

Mapcode Global: WH4FB.K70P

Entry Name: Rhicullen training trenches, 200m N and 300m NW of Wester Rhicullen

Scheduled Date: 30 May 2017

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13640

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: 20th Century Military and Related: Pits, trenches (defensive)

Location: Rosskeen

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Cromarty Firth

Traditional County: Ross-shire

Description

The monument comprises a complex of training trenches used during the First World War. The trenches are visible as earthworks located on flat land at around 50m above sea level, 3.5km from the wartime training camp at Invergordon.

The western set of trenches comprises a first line trench facing to the northwest, of the typical 'zigzag' form, with at least seven communication trenches extending rearwards. This section extends for a maximum of around 250m southwest to northeast by around 80m northwest to southeast. The second area lies to the east of the first group, and appears to have been designed for undertaking training with grenades. It comprises three parallel dead-end trenches facing northwest, with access trenches leading to these from the sides and rear.

Two scheduled areas are irregular on plan and the third is a circle of 55m in diameter, 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 scheduled areas specifically exclude the above ground elements of all telegraph poles to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument was constructed during the First World War, to prepare recruits for the practicalities of the trench warfare they would face on the front lines of the Western Front and elsewhere, including construction and maintenance of the trenches as well as combat tactics and use of weapons. The western section of the trench complex is well preserved and the trench earthworks survive to a maximum depth of more than 1m in places. The majority of the trench system survives in good condition. Its zigzag design comprising front line trench and communication trenches replicates the standard form of the trenches in use on the front lines. The second section, to the east, appears to be a specific training area for the use of grenades, comprising three dead end trenches facing west, from where troops could practice throwing grenades out from the trench. These are connected to two trenches leading to either side, and one leading directly back from the throwing area. There is high potential for historical research and investigation of buried archaeological evidence to tell us more about the training that took place at Rhicullen.

Contextual Characteristics

The Rhicullen site lies around 2.8km west northwest of another complex of training trenches at Broomhill. The wider area around Invergordon (3km to the south) was heavily utilised by the military during the First World War. The town expanded substantially to provide accommodation, maintenance facilities, hospitals and recreation in support of the large naval presence in the Cromarty Firth. The Rhicullen training area is one of 12 known sites across Scotland used for military training during the First World War. These varied in size from small single trenches to substantial landscapes. Some of the other sites have no trace surviving, and several have also remained in use as training areas into the modern day, where Rhicullen appears unaltered since the First World War. The survival of a grenade training trench at Rhicullen is a rare example of a dedicated training area for this specific aspect of combat.

Associative Characteristics

The Rhicullen training trenches were most likely constructed and used by units of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, who had a large training camp in the Invergordon area throughout the First World War.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular military training in the First World War, and the impact of the conflict on Scotland. The monument is one of very few surviving First World War training areas within Scotland, which would have been relatively common during the conflict. The design and construction of the complex mirrors those in use on the front lines, and would be used to familiarise recruits with the tactics of trench warfare, along with the construction and maintenance of the trench systems themselves. The rare survival of a grenade training area makes it particularly significant and loss of the monument would therefore significantly diminish our future ability to attempt to understand and appreciate military tactics and training during the First World War, and the wider impact of the conflict upon Scotland's landscape and society.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number 288431 (accessed on 06/12/2016).

The Highland Council HER Reference MHG50626 (accessed on 06/12/2016).

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/288431/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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