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View of roof-top gun platform from West

SC 652539

Description View of roof-top gun platform from West

Collection RCAHMS

Catalogue Number SC 652539

Category On-line Digital Images

Copy of C 73259 CN

Scope and Content Gun platform, Hackness Martello Tower, South Walls, Hoy, Orkney Islands Recognition of the strategic importance of Scapa Flow grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it was realised that the greatest challenge to British naval supremacy was no longer France but Germany. However, prior to 1914, the government's only significant investment in military architecture in this area was in 1813-15 when coastal defences were built at the entrance to Long Hope. This sheltered inlet, which opens off the south-west corner of Scapa Flow, then served as an assembly-point and anchorage for convoys of sailing ships on the long north-about route around Britain avoiding the English Channel. Designed to provide protection from French and American privateers, the defences were completed only after peace with America had been concluded and shortly before the final collapse of Napoleonic France in 1815. They consisted of a gun battery at Hackness and two cylindrical gun towers known as Martello Towers, one at Hackness and the other at Crockness. Based on the design of a coastal tower at Mortella Point in Corsica which had so impressed the Royal Navy with its robust defensive capabilities in 1794, Martello Towers were built in some numbers on the English south coast, but only one other was erected in Scotland, at Leith Harbour. This shows the open roof-top gun platform on Hackness Martello Tower, looking across Switha Sound towards Flotta. Like its counterpart at Crockness, the tower was designed with a single central gun mounting, originally for a 24-pounder which was replaced in 1866 by a 68-pounder. Of the type introduced into the nearby battery at the same time, this much larger piece of ordnance necessitated some alterations, including the creation of a continuous traversing rail for the barrel which runs around the firing step behind the parapet, even across the entrance at the head of the stair. The stone for the towers is said to have come from Bring Head in North Hoy. At the heart of the Orkney archipelago, Scapa Flow was the main fleet anchorage for the Royal Navy during both World Wars. Its vital importance led to the creation of one of the most concentrated defence networks in Britain. Source: RCAHMS contribution to SCRAN.


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