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Carness Battery

Coastal Battery (Second World War), Coastal Battery (First World War)

Site Name Carness Battery

Classification Coastal Battery (Second World War), Coastal Battery (First World War)

Alternative Name(s) World War I And Ii; Car Ness Battery

Canmore ID 2477

Site Number HY41SE 51

NGR HY 4679 1446

NGR Description Centred HY 4679 1446

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Kirkwall And St Ola
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

World War One Audit of Surviving Remains (24 September 2013)

The battery at Carness was the only one on the northern side of Mainland, covering an anti-submarine boom laid across the narrow channel known as the String, between Carness and Helliar Holm, off Shapinsay. The battery is supposed to have been armed with two 4-inch Quick Firing guns, intended to engage faster, smaller enemy vessels. Stell (2010) suggests that the character of some of the remains may suggest the presence of a rare First World War anti-aircraft emplacement.

The site was used for a much larger battery in the Second World War.

Information from HS/RCAHMS World War One Audit Project (GJB) 24 September 2013.

Archaeology Notes

HY41SE 51.00 centred 4679 1446

For Wellington Battery see HY41SE 52.00

HY41SE 51.01 HY 47662 14432 and HY 46766 14419 Gun-emplacements

HY41SE 51.02 HY 46758 14451 Observation post (Battery observation Post)

HY41SE 51.03 HY 46756 14430 Magazine

HY41SE 51.04 HY 46757 14416 and HY 46748 14426 Store; Building

HY41SE 51.05 HY 46863 14395 and HY 46843 14432 Searchlight battery

HY41SE 51.06 HY 46789 14371 Engine house

HY41SE 51.07 c. HY 4677 1440 Gun-emplacement

Carness Battery: Two 12 pounder gun emplacements with magazines and observation post. One 12 pounder was from Links Battery (HY20NE 77) and one from Balfour Battery (ND49SW 19). There are the remains of a First World War gun emplacement at this site.

J Guy 1993; NMRS MS 810/2; WO/192/115 PRO

The World War I and II Carness Battery is situated to the E of the track leading to the head of Car Ness. The battery is in a relatively complete condition and includes two 12-pounder gun-emplacements (HY41SE 51.01), Battery observation Post (BoP), (HY41SE 51.02), magazine, searchlight platform, store and crew shelter buildings, engine house (HY41SE 51.03-51.06) and the remains of a First World War gun-emplacement (HY41SE 51.07). All that remains of the crew accommodation camp immediately to the S are several concrete hut bases.

The battery faces NE and was built to provide artillery and anti motor torpedo defence in addition to Wellington Battery (HY41SE 52.00), over the approaches to the Bay of Kirkwall.

The Public Record Office (PRO), hold the gun record book (WO 192/115) for this battery and there is a 'plan of the fort', scale 1:1875 showing the layout of the buildings. The battery was manned in 1941 by 535 Regiment (PRO WO 199/2627).

Visited by RCAHMS (DE, GS, SW), August 1999


Watching Brief (28 February 2012 - 2 March 2012)

Car Ness Battery at Car Ness, Kirkwall and St Ola, Orkney KW15 1UE. A watching brief was maintained during the stripping of topsoil from two areas within the Scheduled Ancient Monument area of Car Ness Battery. A c. 50 x 50 m area was excavated, as was a c. 100 x 5 m track which ran to the main area from the existing access road. No finds or features of archaeological significance were seen apart from a truncated cable and shallow trench which appeared to be of WWII date and most likely associated with the nearby coast battery.

Information from Oasis (orkneyre1-122886) 18 June 2013

Project (March 2013 - September 2013)

A project to characterise the quantity and quality of the Scottish resource of known surviving remains of the First World War. Carried out in partnership between Historic Scotland and RCAHMS.


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