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Ronda: Burra Sound, Scapa Flow, Orkney

Obstruction (20th Century), Steamship (20th Century)

Site Name Ronda: Burra Sound, Scapa Flow, Orkney

Classification Obstruction (20th Century), Steamship (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Ronda (Part Of)(Possibly); Ronda (Ex. Rydal Holm)

Canmore ID 101682

Site Number HY20NW 8001

NGR HY 24467 05182

Datum WGS84 - Lat/Long


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2022.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Maritime - Orkney
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Maritime
  • Former County Not Applicable

Archaeology Notes

HY20NW 8001 2447 0519

N58 55.6667 W3 18.725

NLO: Graemsay [name: HY 270 053]

Hoy Sound [name centred HY 236 072]

Stromness [name: HY 253 090]

Scapa Flow [name centred HY 36 00].

Formerly entered as HY20NW 8692.

For other wrecks in this group, see HY20NW 8002-6 and HY20SW 8001-2.

For plan indicating the relative locations and orientations of blockships in this group, see Macdonald 1990, 108.

Quality of fix = HSA

Horizontal Datum = OGB

General water depth = 9

Circumstances of Loss Details


The RONDA was sunk as a blockship.

Surveying Details


The wreck is reported at 58 55 40N, 003 18 43.5W, lying with its keel on an orientation of 120/300 degrees. The bow is to the SE. The funnel and both masts are visible. A least depth of 0.9 metres was recorded at 58 55 38.5N, 003 18 43.5W.

Report by HMS SCOTT, May 1939.

15 August 1962. The vessel was dispersed using explosives and spread over the seabed.

Report by Bomb and Mine Disposal Officer, Scotland Command.

Hydrographic Office, 1995.

(Classified as steel steamship: no cargo specified, but former name cited as Rydal Holm, and date of loss as 20 August 1915). Ronda: this vessel was scuttled as a blockship in Burra Sound, and dispersed in 1962.

Registration: Hull. Built 1889. 1941grt. Length: 84m. Beam: 11m.

(Location of loss cited as N58 55.67 W3 18.63).

I G Whittaker 1998.

Length: 84m

Beam: 11m

GRT: 1941

Originally the Rydal Holme, Rydal Home or Rydal Holm, this steamship was built in 1889 by J Blumer and Co. at West Hartlepool and registered at Hull. A triple-expansion engine of 196hp and two boilers drove a single screw. The ship was single-decked with a poop and quarterdeck of lengths 29ft (8.8m) and 74ft (22.6m) respectively.

This ship was sunk in 1915 as the most northerly of seven blockships in Burra Sound. The wreck was blown up and dispersed to clear the channel in 1962.

No details of the service or commercial history of the ship are apparently available and there is neither a published photograph nor any available description of the dispersed remains left in situ.

Burra Sound forms a narrow gap between Hoy Skerries (to the SW) and the island of Graemsay. Several wrecks are charted in a general depth of between 5 and 12m; the sound is subject to pronounced tidal flows.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 7 November 2002.

D M Ferguson 1985; G Ridley 1992; R and B Larn 1998; I G Whittaker 1998.

HO chart 35 (1991).

Length: 274 ft (83.6m): date of sinking 20 August 1915.

'Concrete Ballasted. In good condition and likely to last.' (Report dated 26 September 1916 and accompanying panoramic sketch dated 8 December 1915).

The drawing (of Burra Sound, looking S towards Hoy from the Graemsay shore) depicts only the masts and funnel as remaining above water; the vessel is apparently nearly erect.

The accompanying map depicts the vessel as lying with bows towards the SSE, to the W of the centre of the channel (towards the Hoy shore) and to the E of the Urmstone Grange (HY20NW 8004).

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 30 January 2004.

PRO [Kew] ADM116/2073A: dated 17 December 1919.


Desk Based Assessment (August 1997)

Throughout the two World Wars Scapa Flow served as the base of the British Home Fleet. Access to these waters was guarded by a series of coastal batteries, booms and blockships. The blockships comprised old and damaged vessels which were deliberately sunk in position so as to form a submarine obstacle to deter enemy incursions. After 1945 some of the blockships were dispersed by explosives to clear the shipping lanes while many others were salvaged for parts and metal. The wrecks of several blockships remain on the sea bed and in the intertidal zone.

(i) [HY20SW 8002] The Gobernador Bories, a 2,332 ton iron steamer, was built in 1882 at West Hartlepool. She was sunk in Burra Sound in 1915. She lies S of Hoy Skerries and is relatively intact.

(ii) [HY20SW 8001] The Ronda was built in 1889 in Sunderland and was sunk in 1914. She was a steel single-screw 1,941 ton steamer. She was dispersed with explosives in 1962.

(iii) [HY20NW 8005] Built in Glasgow in 1882, the 2,252 steel single-screw steamer, Budrie, was sunk in 1915. She was dispersed with explosives in 1962.

(iv) [HY20NW 8003] The Rotherfield was a 2,831 ton steel single-screw steamer. Built in West Hartlepool in 1889, she was sunk in Burra Sound in 1914. She was dispersed with explosives in 1962.

(v) [HY20NW 8004] A 3,423 ton steel single-screw steamer, the Urmstone Grange, was built in Belfast in 1894 and was sunk in 1914. She was dispersed with explosives in 1962.

(vi) [HY20NW 8003] Built in 1938 in Germany, the 8,900 ton tanker Inverlane was holed by a mine off South Shields in 1939. She was patched up, towed to Burra Sound and, there, sunk as a blockship in 1944. She remains relatively intact and her bows are clearly visible, rising from the waters to the S of Hoy Skerries.

(vii) [HY20NW 8006] The Tarbraka was a single-screw steamer of 2,624 tons. Built in Rotterdam in 1909, she was captured by the Royal Navy in 1940 and was sunk as a blockship, initially in Kirk Sound. At the completion of Churchill Barrier 1, the Tarbraka was re-floated and sunk in Burra Sound in 1944. She now lies, upside down, in 12m of water to the S of Hoy Skerries.

(viii) [HY20SW 8001] The 1,761 ton single-screw steamer the Doyle, built in Troon in 1907, was sunk in 1940. She lies relatively intact beneath 15m of water.

Reference (2011)

Whittaker ID : 2574


Latitude : 585540

Longitude : 31838

Date Built : 1889

Registration : HULL

Type : SS (STEEL)

Tonnage : 1941

Tonnage Code : G

Length : 84

Beam : 11

Draught : 6m

Position : Exact Position

Loss Day : 20

Loss Month : 8

Loss Year : 1915

Comment : Scuttled as a blockship. Dispersed in 1962

Reference (19 April 2012)

UKHO Identifier : 001100

Feature Class : Obstn

State : LIVE

Classification : Unclassified

Position (Lat/long) : 58.92722,-3.31369

Horizontal Datum : ETRS 1989

WGS84 Position (Lat/long) : 58.92722,-3.31369

WGS84 Origin : Original

Previous Position : 58.92778,-3.31208

Position Method : Differential Global Positioning System

Position Quality : Surveyed

Position Accuracy : 3.0

Depth : 3.4

Depth Method : Found by multi-beam

Depth Quality : Least depth known

Water Depth : 9

Water Level Effect : Always under water/submerged

Vertical Datum : Mean Low Water Springs


Type : SS


Length : 83.5

Sonar Length : 13.0

Sonar Width : 12.0

Shadow Height : 5.5

Orientation : 90.0

Tonnage : 1941

Tonnage Type : Gross

Date Sunk : 20/08/1915

Sonar Signal Strength : Strong

Scour Depth : 0.0

Contact Description : Other

Original Sensor : Reported Sinking

Last Sensor : Acoustic Sensor

Original Detection Year : 1915

Last Detection Year : 2010

Original Source : Other

Project (March 2012)

Excerpt from the report:


Archaeological Interpretation of Multibeam data and Desk-Based Assessment

WA Ref: 83680.03


WA Coastal and Marine was commissioned by Historic Scotland to provide highresolution multibeam bathymetry data targeted on a number of wreck sites in Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. The list of targets were provided by Historic Scotland, ordered by priority, based on the importance of the wreck and the lack of prior survey at each site. Scapa Flow is a large natural harbour in the southern part of the Orkney Islands in

the North of Scotland, which served as Britain’s main naval base during WWI and WWII. Its waters hold Scotland’s highest concentrations of shipwrecks. Although some of the wrecks in Scapa Flow have previously been the subject of highresolution multibeam surveys there remain a number of important sites which had only previously been covered by low-resolution data acquisition or not covered at all.

WA Coastal & Marine conducted an archaeological assessment of the multibeam data and a Desk-Based Assessment (DBA) of the wreck sites it covered in order to enhance the historic environment record with respect to these sites and to support Historic Scotland’s work on the Scottish Marine Protected Areas Project. Through a thorough review of published and online material relating to the wrecks thought to be in the vicinity of Scapa Flow it has been possible to produce a detailed discussion of these sites in almost every case and also to clarify a number of conflicting sources. This has enabled us to state with certainty the exact location of

each targeted wreck from the multibeam survey, in some cases for the first time. In addition a thorough review of published material and diver accounts has enabled an informed analysis of features visible at each wreck site. The importance of these wreck sites can now be placed within their national and, in some cases, internationalcontexts.

A total of 18 wrecks were surveyed and assessed over the course this project. 16 of have been identified. The two remaining unidentified wrecks are both located in Burra Sound and are isolated pieces of wreck material, which may be associated with recorded losses in the area. The positions of all 16 identified wrecks have been improved, in some cases by over 100 metres. The survey has also greatly aided in understanding the relative positions of the wrecks to each other. The project has also highlighted discrepancies between some diver reports and observed details in the survey data, such as the structural details of some wrecks.'

Information also reported in Oasis (waherita1-136288) 18 June 2013


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