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Dreghorn Woods training trenches, 425m WSW and 350m south west of Redford Bridge, Edinburgh

A Scheduled Monument in Colinton/Fairmilehead, City of Edinburgh

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9026 / 55°54'9"N

Longitude: -3.2439 / 3°14'37"W

OS Eastings: 322326

OS Northings: 668414

OS Grid: NT223684

Mapcode National: GBR 50S5.HY

Mapcode Global: WH6SS.4WKX

Entry Name: Dreghorn Woods training trenches, 425m WSW and 350m SW of Redford Bridge, Edinburgh

Scheduled Date: 22 October 2019

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13717

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Edinburgh

County: City of Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: Colinton/Fairmilehead

Traditional County: Midlothian

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a series of training trenches first used during the First World War. The trenches are visible as earthworks on the north and south sides of the valley where the Bonaly Burn and the Howden Burn merge into the Braid Burn, within Dreghorn Woods on the south side of Edinburgh. They are located just north of the later Dreghorn Barracks at around 140m above sea level.

The southern set of trenches comprises a series of 'zig-zagging' earthworks, forming a network of trenches and dugouts. The area covered by the trenches measures around 80m east-west by around 30m north-south. The southern section includes a main trench with zig-zagging traverses, with multiple connecting trenches branching from the main trench and at least four dugouts. The trenches are up to around 1.2m wide and survive up to 1m deep, while the largest of the dugouts is around 3m square and 1m deep. The northern set of trenches are of a similar design, although with some straighter sections on the east side, and measure around 35m east-west by around 55m north-south. The northern area of trenches are of a similar style to the southern, also surviving up to 1.2m wide and 1m deep, but with four dugouts of a smaller size, around 2m square and under 1m in depth. On the eastern edge of this area of trenches, they adjoin to a larger area of longer, straighter trenches, which may date to later training uses in the area. In both areas, the trench complexes have become partially infilled by natural erosion processes.

The scheduled area is irregular and comprises two areas. It includes the remains described above and an area around 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 above ground elements of all interpretation panels, signs and fencing are specifically excluded from the scheduling, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following ways (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a. The monument is of national importance because it has the potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular about the nature of military training in the First World War, and the impact of the conflict on Scotland.

b. The monument retains structural, architectural, decorative or other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. Both sections of the trench complexes are well-preserved and display characteristic elements of First World War design. The survival of multiple dugouts in addition to the trenches makes this site particularly significant.

c. The monument is a rare surviving example of a First World War training area within Scotland. Such training areas would have been relatively common during the conflict but only four examples including those at Dreghorn have been identified to date (October 2019).

d. The monument with its well-preserved trench complexes and associated dugouts, is a particularly good example of a First World War training area within Scotland. It is therefore an important representative of this monument type.

e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past. There is high potential for historical research and investigation of buried archaeological evidence which could tell us more about the training that took place at Dreghorn during the First World War and more generally what impact the advent of trench warfare had on military training during this period.

g. The monument has significant associations with historical events. The trenches are directly related to events of the First World War; it is likely that the First World War trenches would have been constructed and used by regiments training out of Redford barracks.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument was constructed during the First World War as a training area for the soldiers at Redford Barracks, around 1km north of the site. They were created 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.

Both sections of the trench complexes are well-preserved and display characteristic elements of First World War design. The combination of both trenches and dugouts varies from some other examples of training trenches, such as Rhicullen (scheduled monument SM13640) and Broomhill (scheduled monument SM13641), where there are no dugouts identified. However, dugouts were in extensive use in front-line trench complexes and so their presence in the Dreghorn training area is understandable. There is high potential for historical research and investigation of buried archaeological evidence to tell us more about the training that took place at Dreghorn during the First World War. There is also potential for evidence showing the development and changes to training techniques over time, specifically at the area where the northern section of First World War trenches connects to the longer linear trenches to the east.

Contextual Characteristics

The Dreghorn Woods training trenches are located on either side of the wooded valley where the Bonaly and Howden Burns join to become the Braid Burn. Although the area is immediately north of Dreghorn Barracks, the First World War trenches are in fact connected to the training of personnel from Redford Barracks (built 1909-15), around 850m north of the site, as Dreghorn Barracks was not built until the 1930s. In common with many military training areas within Scotland, they were reused at other points in the 20th century. While in many cases this reuse removed any First World War evidence, at Dreghorn there are key First World War elements surviving.

This site is one of 12 known sites across Scotland used for military training during the First World War. Very few visible parts of First World War training areas survive to any recognisable degree within Scotland. Two groups of training trenches survive near Invergordon, at Rhicullen (SM13640) and Broomhill (SM13641), while a set of trenches with additional evidence of later Second World War use are known to survive at the Barry Buddon Training Centre in Angus. Some short stretches of trench have also been identified at Stobs Camp near Hawick, a large-scale training area for much of the 20th century.

Associative Characteristics

It is likely that the First World War trenches would have been constructed and used by regiments training out of Redford barracks. The physical remains of sites from the First World War such as the Dreghorn Woods training area have become places to visit, remember and commemorate the people who served on wartime sites such as this. The monument is a visible reminder of the considerable scale of infrastructure and resources and number of people required in the First World War, one of the defining events of the 20th century.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 332368 (accessed on 19/02/2018).

Barclay, G.J. (2013) The Built Heritage of the First World War in Scotland. Project report, Historic Scotland and Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Will, B. (2013) Dreghorn Woods: A baseline condition survey of WW1 training trenches. GUARD Archaeology Ltd., Glasgow

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/332368/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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