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Publication Account

Date 1996

Event ID 1016197

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The tower appears to be circular, but the wall on the seaward side is twice as thick as that on the landward side in order to withstand bombardment,and this creates an elliptical plan. Inside, each of the floors is circular. Access into the tower is on the landward side at first-floor level, as a defensive measure; a single doorway, set at a height of about 4m above ground-level and reached originally by a portable ladder, leads into the living quarters for the gunners and their N.C.O. The tower had its own water-supply from a cistern built into the foundations, and the water could be raised to the living quarters by a hand-pump set into the recess on the left-hand side of the entrance passage. The beds were arranged radially round the wall, and the N.C.O. had the privacy of his own cubicle. Stairs within the thickness of the wall led down to the ground-level storeroom and magazine and up to the parapet and gun platform. At a height of some 10m above the ground, the top of the tower gives a wide view over the approaches to the Longhope anchorage, and the 24-pounder cannon could also guard the landward side of the battery against any attack from a landing party. The original gun mounting was modified in 1866, and the tower was used as a naval signal-post during the First World War.

Less than 180m to the north-west of the tower lies the battery, designed as a powerful deterrent with eight 24-pounder guns sweeping the south-east approaches to Longhope through Switha Sound and Cantick Sound. The gunners were protected by a stone parapet and an embankment, while behind the battery were their barracks and stores and a magazine built partially underground, the whole installation enclosed within a high stone wall on the landward side. Most important of the extensive renovations carried out in 1866 was the remodelling of the battery itself to provide heavier guns and better protection for the gunners: four 68-pounder cannons were mounted so as to fire through embrasures rather than simply over the parapet. Additional domestic buildings include, beside the gate, an officers' block which later became a farmhouse. The sandstone used to build both the Hackness and Crockness martello towers and the battery was quarried at Bring Head on the northeast coast of Hoy and transported by boat to Longhope.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Orkney’, (1996).

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