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North Sutor Battery, batteries and camps

A Scheduled Monument in Tain and Easter Ross, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.6943 / 57°41'39"N

Longitude: -3.9831 / 3°58'59"W

OS Eastings: 281887

OS Northings: 868898

OS Grid: NH818688

Mapcode National: GBR J8JD.463

Mapcode Global: WH4FF.SVGT

Entry Name: North Sutor Battery, batteries and camps

Scheduled Date: 26 March 2019

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13570

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: 20th Century Military and Related: Battery

Location: Nigg (Highland)

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Tain and Easter Ross

Traditional County: Ross-shire

Description

The monument is the remains of four coastal artillery batteries with associated accommodation camps and ancillary structures. Construction began in 1913 and the site was used in both the First and Second World War. It is visible as an extensive series of concrete and timber structures, hut bases and earthworks. The battery is located on the Nigg peninsula, lying between 10m and 135m above sea level overlooking the Cromarty Firth.

The site comprises two First World War 9.2 inch gun emplacements, four First World War 4-inch quick-firing (QF) gun emplacements, two Second World War 6-inch gun emplacements, three battery observation posts, four magazines, at least three engine houses, one First World War Defence Electric light (DEL) emplacement, two Second World War searchlight emplacements, one subterranean operations block, two "half" pillboxes, an unrotated projectile (UP) rocket battery, and at least 20 other accommodation, storage and maintenance buildings in varying degrees of survival. Together with the batteries at South Sutor, it forms part of the defences of the Cromarty Firth in both world wars. The site was abandoned in the inter-war period and finally closed in 1956.

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.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic Characteristics

The batteries and associated remains generally survive in good condition with extensive upstanding remains. However there are some areas of decay, including some of the ancillary structures.

Coastal artillery batteries were constructed around Scotland in both the First and Second World Wars to defend key strategic assets such as naval bases. They display an interesting amount of individual variation, given the officially 'standardised' nature of military structures, and often reflect the local availability of materials. The construction of the Sutor batteries by the Royal Navy rather than the Army has given them a markedly different design than other coastal batteries. The technical challenges presented by the strategically important site at North Sutor can be seen in the First World War DEL emplacements and the Second World War searchlight emplacements, both of which were constructed in an extremely challenging location in order to maximise their effectiveness.

There is high potential for the survival of archaeological evidence both within and around the batteries, particularly around the accommodation buildings and the main battery structures, which 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.

Construction began in 1913 and the battery was completed that year. It remained in use throughout the First World War but was abandoned after the end of the conflict. The Second World War use of the site began with the construction of the 6-inch battery. The two Mark VII 6-inch guns were installed in 1940 and were replaced in 1943 with Mark XXIV 6-inch guns. The battery remained in use throughout the war. It was placed on a 'care and maintenance' basis after the war and finally closed in 1956.

Contextual Characteristics

The Sutor batteries were a vital component of a national defensive system that extended from Shetland to Cornwall. Within Scotland, there were around 50 coastal batteries during the First World War and around 70 coastal batteries during the Second World War. They were positioned to defend strategically significant targets from amphibious and naval attack. While some anchorages, such as Rosyth and Scapa Flow, had high numbers of batteries for their defence, at Cromarty only the North and South Sutor batteries were provided.

The survival of rare First World War elements such as the Defence Electric Light (DEL) emplacements, and many of the ancillary structures at North Sutor make this an excellent example of a coastal battery within Scotland. Although clearance was conducted on many sites following the end of the war, the relatively remote nature of this battery meant that these efforts were not as intensive as elsewhere and, as a result, a range of less common features survives.

Each battery was carefully sited to maximise its strategic value. This example is located on the headland of North Sutor, overlooking the shipping channel into the Cromarty Firth from the Moray Firth. The main area of the battery is located on sloping ground between around 100m and 135m above sea level, with the First World War 4-inch QF battery at around 60m to 90m, and elements such as the searchlights and the First World War DEL emplacements located much lower down towards the shoreline, at around 10-20m above sea level. The batteries at South Sutor are clearly visible from the North Sutor complex.

Associative Characteristics

The monument is a highly visible reminder of the key role the Cromarty Firth played as an important naval base from 1912 in the defence of Britain during both the First and Second World War. It provides tangible evidence of the major wartime construction and engineering which took place around the Cromarty Firth and which had a significant impact on the local population and landscape.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the defence of the important naval base of the Cromarty Firth during the First and Second World War. This is a well-preserved example of a multi-phase coastal artillery battery, preserving rare features from both wars, including fixtures, fittings and camouflage paintwork. Occupying a strategically significant location at the entrance to the Cromarty Firth, the remains at North Sutor provide a tangible and powerful reminder of some 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 naval threats in the First and Second World War, and diminish the association between those who live in the area today and those who lived and served there during the wars.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number 75579 (accessed on 09/06/2016).

Highland Council HER Reference MHG8556 (accessed on 09/06/2016).

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

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/75579/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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