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Crombie anti-aircraft battery, 695m south east of Bullions

A Scheduled Monument in Rosyth, Fife

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0421 / 56°2'31"N

Longitude: -3.5425 / 3°32'33"W

OS Eastings: 304000

OS Northings: 684314

OS Grid: NT040843

Mapcode National: GBR 1V.R842

Mapcode Global: WH5QX.KD9F

Entry Name: Crombie anti-aircraft battery, 695m SE of Bullions

Scheduled Date: 13 November 2018

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13713

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: 20th Century Military and Related: Anti-aircraft/barrage balloon site

Location: Torryburn

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Rosyth

Traditional County: Fife

Description

The monument is a First and Second World War anti-aircraft battery defending the strategic anchorage of the Firth of Forth and the naval base and related facilities around Rosyth. It is visible as a group of concrete and brick features, comprising two gun emplacements, two magazines and one range-finding or targeting position. It occupies a highly strategic location on a ridge on the north side of the Forth, with extensive views to the east and west along the river and across it to the south.

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.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic Characteristics

The remains of the Crombie anti-aircraft battery are well-preserved, and there is high potential for the survival of archaeological evidence within and around the battery, that can increase our understanding of the construction and use of the battery and the daily lives of the men who built and served on it in order to defend the strategic anchorage and related facilities on the Firth of Forth.

The battery survives to a high degree. It consists of five structures in total, including two circular concrete gun emplacements, two brick and concrete magazines or storage buildings and a smaller circular concrete based position, which may have been used for range finding or targeting equipment. The western gun emplacement and the smaller position have brick walls surround them, which is not characteristic of First World War sites, and was possibly added during the Second World War, when one of four anti-aircraft batteries for Crombie was recorded in this area around 1942. The precise sequence of use and development is not clear from the available documentary evidence or visible remains, however archaeological investigation of the site would likely be able to enhance our understanding of this.

The construction date of the battery is unclear, but it appears to be in operation by 1916, when it is marked on a map of the defences of the Royal Navy Armament Depot (The National Archives WO 78/4396). This map indicates the position of the battery as around 50m further north than the structures noted here, however the form of the indicated structures is typical of a First World War anti-aircraft battery, like the example at Burray Ness on Orkney (SM13499). Placing the battery in the position indicated by the mapping would also place it in an area of lower ground north of the ridge it lies on, severely reducing its lines of sight. It is possible that the map shows the proposed location but the battery was moved to its present position once the details of the terrain were considered on the ground.

Contextual Characteristics

The Crombie anti-aircraft battery is a rare surviving example of a form of defence created at strategic points across Britain to defend against the emerging threat of aerial warfare during the First World War. Fixed anti-aircraft positions like this one were built to protect areas and sites of strategic value, in this case the anchorage of the Firth of Forth and the military and related facilities in and around Rosyth. They were also carefully positioned within the landscape to maximise their strategic value. The Crombie example sits on a low ridge, around 45m above sea level, on the north side of the Forth, directly overlooking the Crombie munitions depot. In keeping with its function, the position gives the battery extensive views to the east and west along the line of the river, and also long views to the south across the Forth and north into Fife.

The battery is an integral part of the strategic defence of the Firth of Forth in both the First and Second World Wars. It was one of at least 39 anti-aircraft positions in place in Scotland by June 1918, of which at least three were sited within the area of the munitions depot at Crombie. Of the batteries built during the First World War, only three are known to survive within Scotland, including Crombie, with another four surviving elsewhere in Britain. Of these, Crombie is one of the best surviving examples, likely second only to the battery at Burray Ness on Orkney (SM13499) which was not reused in the Second World War.

Surviving Second World War anti-aircraft batteries are more common, with a number of examples already designated, such as Liberton battery on the Forth (SM13607), Larkfield battery on the Clyde (SM12826) and Stromabank battery on Orkney (SM13558). However, all of these represent heavy anti-aircraft batteries, while the size and style of Crombie suggests it may instead have been a light anti-aircraft position, which are less common survivals. The specific nature of the battery is not clear from the available records, and archaeological investigation of the site may enhance our understanding of its functions over time.

Associative Characteristics

The physical remains of sites from the First World War such as the Crombie anti-aircraft battery provide evidence of one of the largest construction efforts ever to have taken place in British history, which also had a significant impact on the local population and landscape. The monument is a visible reminder of the considerable efforts made to defend the British Isles during the First and Second World Wars. The monument is also a testament to the rapid development of military air power during the First World War, and the recognition of the threat it posed to areas far from the front lines of the war.


Statement of National Importance


The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved example of a First World War anti-aircraft battery, likely reused in the Second World War, and forming part of defensive network to protect the strategically vital assets of the Firth of Forth. One of very few surviving First World War ant-aircraft batteries in Scotland, this battery retains considerable potential to add to our knowledge and understanding of defensive military strategy along the coastline of eastern Scotland during the First and Second World Wars. These structures are a tangible and powerful reminder of two of the defining events of the 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 against enemy threats in the First and Second World Wars.

 

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 332325 (accessed on 03/10/2018).

The National Archives WO 78/4396.

Barclay, G J 2013, The Built Heritage of the First World War in Scotland, Project report, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS

Dobinson, C. (2001). AA Command: Britain s Anti-aircraft Defences of the Second World War. London: Methuen.

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/105821/
https://canmore.org.uk/site/332325/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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