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North Sutor, Coast Battery, Counter-bombardment Battery Observation Post

Engine House (Second World War), Observation Post (Second World War)

Site Name North Sutor, Coast Battery, Counter-bombardment Battery Observation Post

Classification Engine House (Second World War), Observation Post (Second World War)

Alternative Name(s) Cromarty Defences; Fort North Sutor

Canmore ID 170754

Site Number NH86NW 9.08

NGR NH 82564 69519

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Nigg (Ross And Cromarty)
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NH86NW 9.08 82564 69519

World War II counter-bombardment battery observation post with engine house.

A gun emplacement and a small 5 by 3m single storey gable ended building (roofless). Presumed to be part of (NH86NW 9).

CFA/MORA Coastal Assessment Survey 1998.

This observation post is situated at the eastern corner of a wood to the E of Castlecraig farmsteading.

Built of brick and concrete it was the Counter Bombardment Observation Post for the coast batteries at North Sutor.

J Guy 2000; NMRS MS 810/10, Vol.2, 118

The Counter Bombardment Observation post retains traces of the WW II camouflage scheme and some of the steel shutters are also in situ. The unroofed electricity generation building with a concrete engine bed in the interior is located at NH 8254 6950 in the wood slightly to the SW of the observation post.

Visited by RCAHMS (DE), 15 May 2002


Field Visit (28 May 2019)

This counter-bombardment battery observation post (NH 82565 69518), enclosed within the remains of a grass-grown bund, is situated at the NE corner of a field of semi-improved pasture about 665m NE of the North Sutor Coast Battery (NH86NW9). It is rectangular on plan, measuring 5.8m from NNE to SSW by 4.6m transversely within reinforced cast concrete walls 0.3m thick and 2.3m high. The building has a flat, overhanging concrete roof that preserves traces of asphalt waterproofing, while the external walls of the building are camouflaged with red, green, white and black washes. The canopy above the SE facing observation window, which thins as it slopes subtly downwards, is supported by two horizontal iron girders strengthened at each side by two shorter ones - the weight being carried by two pillars set in the NE and SW walls. A strong iron-plated door in the NW wall immediately adjacent to the building’s W corner provides access to the interior and a batten with nails for coat hooks is attached to the SW wall close-by. A chimney pipe emerging from the centre of the NW wall marks the site of a stove, while the lower section of the wall to its NE has been lined with horizontal planks which may have supported a shelf. Three blue-painted, square concrete pillars for a Position Finder are situated centrally below the canopy and leading from them is a branch of a cable channel in the concrete floor, which runs into another before leaving the building near its NE corner. Upright wooden battens possibly mark the position of another shelf fixed against the SE wall below the wraparound observation window. This window could be closed by a metal shutters of which three still remain in place. They are hinged at the base and open outwards to rest at an angle on twenty horizontal metal brackets extending from the external wall below. Those shutters facing SE have apertures with sliding covers, which allowed observations to be made even when closed. Originally, the whole of the interior may have been whitewashed, but the lower half was repainted blue below a black line before being painted orange. The right side of a faded, but neatly stencilled panel on the SE wall below the centre of the observation window, preserves some range finding information:

… Bearing Range

098° 06’ 15” 49713 yards

… 14517 yards

… H 1454F

Power for the observation post was provided by an engine-house (NH 82547 69512) situated at the edge of the coniferous plantation 12.5m to its WSW. This building, which is rectangular on plan, measures 4.4m from NW to SE by 2.75m transversely within pale concrete brick walls 0.23m thick and 2.4m high at wall-head. The walls have been raised on a concrete platform and there is a bitumen damp proof course above the first layer of bricks. By contrast, the gables are built of clay bricks, latterly repaired with further cement bricks, while the roof was clad in corrugated iron sheets that have left their impressions in the cement on top of the wall-head. These sheets appear to have been held down by wooden battens that were secured by wire passing through the walls to ties on the inside of the building. There is a central entrance with a concrete lintel on the SE fronted by a single step, but although fragments of a wooden frame survive, the door itself is missing. The NE and SW walls have a single central rectangular window with a concrete lintel and a moulded sill. These walls also have a pair of rectangular vents with slatted metal grills at each corner just below wall-head, but one in a similar pairing below the NW gable has lost this cover. A thick horizontal wooden batten attached to the exterior of this wall was possibly part of a cradle that held the fuel tank. A pipe below, which has been cut off just above ground level, appears to have conveyed this to the engine inside the building. The central plinth on which the engine was placed dominates the largely grass-grown cement floor within building’s interior. It measures 3m from NW to SE by 0.87m transversely and 0.12m high. The walls have been rendered with cement and that on the NW retains two metal brackets for a tank directly above the plinth. The interior has been colour-washed, with orange above a medial dark line and brown below.

Although both buildings are situated well to the NE of the North Sutor Coast Battery, the boundary stones marking the War Department’s property that survive in their immediate vicinity continue the battery’s sequence (NH86NW 9.81-NH86NW 9.84).

Two low mounds (NH 82571 69511 and NH 82579 69515), 2.5m and 8m respectively SE of the counter-bombardment battery observation post, possibly comprise surplus spoil from the excavation of its foundations.

The cement bricks used in the gable ends of the engine house have only otherwise been noted in the secondary phase of the building that supplied the fuel to the main engine house at Site No.1 (NH86NW 9.13), the secondary phase of a building at Site No.2 (NH86NW 9.33), the latrines at Site No.2 (NH86NW 9.43) and the secondary phase of the Engine House at Site No.3 on the South Sutor (NH86NW 11.19). These are all structures that were modified or newly built after the commencement of the Second World War.

Visited by HES, Survey and Recording (ATW, AKK) 28 May 2019


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