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Sheriff Muir, Atlantic Wall

Bunker (Second World War), Military Training Site (Second World War), Wall (Second World War)

Site Name Sheriff Muir, Atlantic Wall

Classification Bunker (Second World War), Military Training Site (Second World War), Wall (Second World War)

Alternative Name(s) Whitestone Range; Black Hill; Sheriffmuir; Harperstone

Canmore ID 145650

Site Number NN80SW 23.01

NGR NN 83783 03665

NGR Description Centred NN 8381 0376

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/145650

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Stirling
  • Parish Dunblane And Lecropt
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Stirling
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NN80SW 23.01 centred 8381 0376

NN 836 036 Remains of concrete bunker, used for target practice. Ruined reinforced concrete wall, with facing ditch, apparently damaged by gunfire.

R Page 1997

A reinforced concrete mock-up of an anti-invasion Atlantic wall is situated within the Whitestone Range to the E of the public road across Sheriff Muir. The wall is 86m in length from NE to SW and stands to about 3m in height. Just over half of the length of the wall is 3m thick, stepping down to 0.7m at the SW end, where the wall curves round slightly to the W. The rear face of the wall is vertical for about half its height, battering inwards towards the top, which is flat. The front, or seaward side slopes outwards to create an overhang, with a small inward batter at the top along which there are iron pickets to carry barbed wire. The corrugations of the shuttering used in the construction of the wall are clearly visible, as are individual dumps of concrete. Some care has been taken in finishing off the surfaces where the initial dumping of concrete has left gaps. A tunnel, 0.6m wide, runs through the wall about half way along. The front face of the wall is extensively pitted by impacts from weapons of a variety of calibres revealing the 1/2 inch and 1 inch reinforcing rods, but the most spectacular damage is a 4m wide breach in the wall from which a spread of debris extends to a break of slope some 40m away.

The wall is fronted by a flat-bottomed anti-tank ditch, with an upcast bank on the NW or ?seaward? side. The ditch is some 3m across and about 0.6m in depth and while the SW end is coterminous with the end of the wall, at the NE end the ditch extends for about 4m beyond the wall. A trench running at right-angles to the SW end of the wall may have run up to an emplacement on the hillside to the ESE. A trench lying some 30m to the NW of the wall may have connected a network of trenches to the SSW (NN80SW 23.02) with a bunker (NN80SW 23.07) to the NNE of the wall. This bunker incorporates a Tobruk shelter consisting of a sunken chamber with two observation and firing holes in the roof. Initially developed by the Italian Army in North Africa, these were quickly adopted by the Afrika Korps and were used by the German Army as an integral part of many Atlantic Wall defences (Thomas 1995).

To the E of the bunker a large disturbed hollow full of ironwork extends as far as a largely grass-covered, concrete bunker, which may have been octagonal on plan (NN 8385 0376). Access may have been from a trench system on the SSE which extended up the N flank of Black Hill.

Visited by RCAHMS (DCC) 27 November 1998

R J C Thomas 1995.

[Area centred NN 8379 0369]. Scheduled as Sheriff Muir, Whitestone Range, SW of Harperstone... visible as upstanding ruins, ditches and earthworks.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 19 November 2003.

Activities

Field Visit (24 May 2016 - 30 May 2016)

NN 83720 03660 As part of the project to investigate the WW2 ‘Atlantic Walls’ around the UK, with particular focus on the complex of structures at Sheriffmuir, a GPS survey was undertaken, 24–30 May 2016. The survey broadly confirmed the findings of a 1998 RCAHMS survey of the military

archaeology on Sheriffmuir, and most of the structures recorded in 1998 are still identifiable.

Archive: NRHE (intended)

Funder: Dunblane Museum

Peta Glew – Northlight Heritage

(Source: DES, Volume 17)

Note (November 2017)

Top secret

The end of the Nazis started here…... This top-secret research and training ground was used in the preparation for D-Day, one of the most important events in world history.

Following the Nazi’s occupation of Europe, Hitler ordered the construction of a massive series of defences along Europe’s coastline, often using slave labour. The key element of these was the infamous Atlantic Wall designed to repel tanks. They were constructed from reinforced concrete, at which the German’s excelled.

In order to determine how to breach these walls in 1943 the British formed the Anti-Concrete Committee. The plans for the Atlantic Wall were smuggled out of occupied Europe in a biscuit tin. In order to work out how to breach these defences the British constructed a series of replicas across Britain and the biggest and best preserved of these is at Sheriffmuir, Stirling. Sheriffmuir was chosen for both its relative isolation and its proximity to the major transport hub at Stirling.

The complex of reconstructions reflects both German offensive and defensive positions and recreates the ground conditions and distances from the landing craft in the sea all the way to the wall. The Atlantic Wall at Sherriff Muir, is a massive block of reinforced concrete 86 m long and about 3 m in height and up to 3m thick. As it was used for target practice it's covered with hundreds of missile impacts, if you close your eyes you can almost hear the explosions, feel the shocks and smell the gunpowder!

My favourite element is the Torbruk Shelter, which is to the immediate east of the wall and is based on the German tactic of burying tanks in sand, leaving only their main gun barrel exposed. The shelter develops this idea into two fixed gun positions and an underground shelter.

Training practice

There was a long history of military training at Sheriffmuir. Originally named 'The Sheriff Muir' it was used for medieval weaponshaws. In World War 1 the ground was laced with practice trenches which were constructed by the 52nd (Lowland) Division trained on the range before going to Gallipoli in 1915. Infamously many of these troops were killed in the Gretna Train Disaster on the 22nd May which resulted in the deaths of over 200 people and is still, to this day, Britain’s worst train crash.

Captain M. A. Philip (Brigade Signals Officer, 185 Bde 3 Div.) was involved in the Wall’s construction. He recollected:

“We began some Combined Operations exercises, pretty primitive at first, known as ‘dryshod-exercises’. A road or some other suitable landmark represented the coastline, and if you were on one side of it you were technically afloat and on the other side on land again. Men and vehicles were fed across the ‘coastline’ at specified intervals to represent landing craft discharging their contents.”

If you intend to visit the site, please note that it is on private ground, so please follow the Country Code. The ground is very uneven so watch your footing! Finally, there is a lot of broken and snapped iron rebar, so be very careful when you explore the remains.

Dr Murray Cook - Stirling Council Archaeologist

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