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Kinlochleven, First World War Prisoner of War Camp

A Scheduled Monument in Fort William and Ardnamurchan, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.7051 / 56°42'18"N

Longitude: -4.9329 / 4°55'58"W

OS Eastings: 220548

OS Northings: 760885

OS Grid: NN205608

Mapcode National: GBR GB6Z.TDV

Mapcode Global: WH2HK.6Q7N

Entry Name: Kinlochleven, First World War Prisoner of War Camp

Scheduled Date: 16 May 2018

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13681

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: 20th Century Military and Related: Prisoner of War (POW) Camp

Location: Lismore and Appin

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Fort William and Ardnamurchan

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

Description

The monument is a prisoner of war camp, operational from 1916-1919. It is visible as the extensive remains of concrete structure bases and supporting piers, some stone walling, tracks and paths, stairs and minor earthworks located by the River Leven, on a lightly wooded and narrow valley floor, around 2.4km east southeast of Kinlochleven.

Kinlochleven prisoner of war camp, also known as Loch Eilde Camp, was part of the British prisoner of war camp network and operated as a satellite to Stobs Camp in the Borders. The camp hosted mostly German prisoners of war with also some British conscientious objectors. The camp was cleared after the end of the First World War. However, almost the entire plan form of the camp remains visible. It   survives as concrete bases, supporting piers and pillars, network of paths and tracks, some stone walling and evidence of minor earthworks such as narrow gauge railway sidings.

The scheduled area includes 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 schedule excludes any modern post and wire fencing and the top 30cm of the Ciaran Path (signposted leisure/walking trail).

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic Characteristics

Contemporary plans of Kinlochleven camp survive and greatly assist in identifying the original function of the physical remains visible today, which survive as concrete structure bases and foundations, sections of stone walling, tracks and paths, stairs and earthworks. The camp was divided into two areas. The western portion was open and included structures such as accommodation huts and mess quarters for guards and officers, a parade ground, detention house and the hospital. The eastern portion of the camp was secured and included a boundary 'death line' to contain internees. A road or track ran east-west through the middle of the main secure camp area. North of the road were located the accommodation huts for prisoners, theatre stage and kitchen. South of the road were several other accommodation huts and ancillary buildings such as the laundry, a shop, ablutions and shower block and the boiler house. Between the east and west portions of the camp ran a narrow gauge railway, with sidings, that crossed the River Leven, terminating at the camp coal store and carpenters shop. Other elements of the camp that survive include urinals, water stands and drains located around the site.

The near complete plan form of this camp makes Kinlochleven a very rare survivor. During the site visit for assessment, every structure annotated on original site plans could be identified on the ground. There are no other surviving examples of such a complete plan form of a First World War prisoner of war camp in Scotland. Stobs Camp (Canmore ID 86444), located in the Scottish Borders, has some very rare upstanding building remains and a well preserved plan. However, Stobs was also a military administrative and training centre which was operational until the mid-20th century, during which time the site was changed and adapted. In contrast, Kinlochleven Camp was a purpose built prisoner of war camp operational during a single conflict.

There is high potential for the survival of archaeological evidence both within and around the camp, particularly around the accommodation area and the camp structures, which can increase our understanding of the construction and use of the camp and the daily lives of the men who built, worked and were imprisoned there.

Contextual Characteristics

This camp is located by the River Leven and was in close proximity to the contemporary aluminium works at Kinlochleven (LB49944). In the early 20th century, a high proportion of the aluminium used in British manufacturing was imported from Germany. The outbreak of the First World War ended these imports at the same time as there was an increased demand for aluminium as part of the war effort. The aluminium works at Kinlochleven was expanded and the prisoner of war camp was established to provide a base for a workforce to construct a pipeline, around 8km long, from Loch Eilde Mor to the Blackwater Reservoir (LB51833). This reservoir supplied the hydroelectric power station that powered the aluminium works. The prisoners at the Kinlochleven Camp were also involved in the construction of a public road from Glencoe to Kinlochleven. This was a challenging route with numerous bridges and revetments required to carry the road.

The camp at Kinlochleven was part of a network of prisoner of war camps in Britain established during the First World War. The main administrative centre and camp for Scotland was located at Stobs (Canmore ID 86444) near Hawick. Prisoners arrived in Scotland at Stobs and records suggest up to 1200 were then stationed at the Kinlochleven camp. Approximately 7km west of the Kinlochleven camp, lies another First World War camp known as Caolasnacon (Canmore ID 332717). Caolasnacon was initially a set up as a work camp for conscientious objectors constructing the new road between Glencoe and Kinlochleven. However, due to delays, inmates of the Kinlochleven camp were also put to work on the road.

Associative Characteristics

The physical remains of sites from the First World War such as Kinlochleven camp have become places to visit, remember and commemorate the men who served on wartime sites such as this. Their relatives and descendants visit prisoner of war camps from across the globe for this reason. The monument is a visible reminder of the considerable efforts made to house and utilise prisoners of war in the British Isles during the First World War.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is an integral part of the network of camps constructed in the First World War to house prisoners of war. Although the camp was cleared soon after the end of the war, it remains a well-preserved example of a First World War prisoner of war camp, with a near complete original plan form. The monument offers considerable potential to study the relationship between the various elements of the site, and to enhance our understanding of prisoner of war camps of this period. These remains provide a tangible and powerful reminder of one of the defining events of the early 20th century. 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 and, specifically to, house prisoners of war during the First World War.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE IDs 120445 (accessed on 29/01/2018).

AOC (1996). 'Kinlochleven survey' in Discovery and Excavation Scotland. Edinburgh.

Brown, I. (2002). 20th Century Defences in Britain: an Introductory Guide. Council for British Archaeology, York.

Herbert, C. (2004). Student Dissertation: Loch Eilde Camp, A Camp for German Prisoners of the 1st World War. Self published.

Miller, J. (2002). The Dam Builders – Power From The Glens. Birlinn, Edinburgh.

Prisoners of War Information Bureau (1919). Lists of Places of Internment. London.

The British Aluminium Company (1917). Loch Eilde Mor Contract: Prisoners of war Camp Plan, 17 January 1917.

The Oban Times (2016). 'Group Commemorates Kinlochleven Prisoner Of War Camp's Centenary' in The Oban Times published on 8 September 2016.

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/120445/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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