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Rerwick Head Battery

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

Site Name Rerwick Head Battery

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

Alternative Name(s) Scapa Flow Defences

Canmore ID 3103

Site Number HY51SW 10

NGR HY 54106 11885

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/3103

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish St Andrews And Deerness
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY51SW 10.00 54106 11885

HY51SW 10.01 HY 54105 11899, HY 54118 11875 and HY 54098 11885 Gun-emplacements; Magazine

HY51SW 10.02 HY 54117 11836 Observation post

HY51SW 10.03 HY 54099 11822 Building

HY51SW 10.04 HY 53984 11942 and HY 54170 11753 Searchlight battery

HY51SW 10.05 HY 53968 11891 and HY 54027 11813 Engine houses

HY51SW 10.06 centred HY 5398 1187 Military camp

HY51SW 10.07 HY 54190 11590 Observation post

HY51SW 10.08 HY 54158 11693 Building

HY51SW 10.09 centred HY 53856 11741 and c.5384 1180 Military camp; Air-raid shelters

A very extensive and well-preserved series of batteries and associated buildings. Military structures once occupied the whole area eastward from Rerwick farm; the batteries are mostly on the point of Rerwick Head and S from it. The Orkney Structure Plan lists this along with Ness Battery, Stromness, for retention with view to preservation as a historical monument. (Orkney Structure Plan 1975 amended 1978, appendix B, para 7.1).

There were defences here in both World Wars.

Visited by R G Lamb April 1979.

RCAHMS 1987.

This battery included 2 x 6-inch guns on naval mountings from HMS Iron Duke.

J Guy 1993; NMRS MS 810/2, 48-58; WO/192/264.

At Rerwick Head are the extensive remains of a Coastal Battery with many of the associated buildings such as control positions, command posts, searchlight platforms and the machinery house still upstanding. In addition are the footings of the accommodation blocks, recreation rooms (including the billiard room), bathhouse and ablutions block.

An interesting facet of this site is the survival of at least eight turf banked machine gun posts along the cliff edge between the main battery site (From HY 5410 1187 to HY 5424 1146), with another possible one at HY 5392 1189. There is also a light anti-aircraft position at HY 5392 1187 which retains ammunition lockers.

There are further accommodation blocks at HY 5383 1177 with what may be the remains of two air-raid shelters cut into the shoreline at HY 5380 1178, they are no longer are roofed, but the concrete steps into them survive at the SE end.

Visited by RCAHMS (DE) May 1996.

The WW II coast battery is visible on RAF vertical air photographs (106G/Scot/UK 137, 4038-4039, 3 July 1946), which show that the guns were still in place at this date along with most of the huts.

A Gun-record book layout plan exists in the Public Record Office (PRO WO 192/264), along with other documentation (WO 192/112, WO 199/2627 and WO 199/527), showing that in 1941 it was designated as 146 Battery and manned by 535 Regiment.

Information from RCAHMS (DE), February 2005

Activities

Field Visit (April 1979)

In World War I there was some kind of defence at Rerwick - Hamilton-Baillie identified two concrete platforms with gun mounting ring for guns larger than 12-pdr, probably W.W.I 4-inch, without parapets. [R1]

In World War II there were 6-inch guns taken from HMS Iron Duke. Rerwick, unlike many Orkney batteries, possesed no 12-pdr QF guns. There were Bren guns covering the beaches and others for AA cover. The String was defended by an electrically controlled minefield. Rerwick was the HQ commanding other forts at Carness, on Shapinsay, and at Wasswick in Rendall. The HQ was adjacent to the battery (presumably nearer to Rerwick farm). [R2]

Operation Order of June 1940 mentions two batteries of 4.7-inch British coast defence guns, these being concrete gun pits with associated magazine and crew shelter. In 1941 two 6-inch naval Mk VII guns were added; these were bolted to a ring in a flat concrete floor, reproducing original shipboard mountings (presumably on W.W.I like cruisers). Concrete magazines and crew accommodation with self-defence loopholes behind. When these were installed the original 4.7-inch seemed to have been moved to Castle battery on Shapinsay. There were also two positions, of concrete with semi-circular open front originally closed by steel shutters, for searchlights, presumably either 3 deg Concentrated Moveable or 16 deg dispersed moveable. Hamilton-Baillie also notes 3 emplacements of the type with 3 vertical slits, presumably mounting fixed dispersed lights. There is also a control tower for the electrically-detonated mines in the String. See index card for photos.

A very extensive and well-preserved series of batteries and associated buildings. Military structures once occupied the whole area eastward from Rerwick farm, the batteries are mostly on the point of Rerwick Head and S from it. The Orkney structure Plan lists this along with Ness Battery, Stromness, for retention with view to preservation as an historical monument. Orkney Structure Plan 1975 amended 1978 appendix B paragraph 7=1,

Information from Orkney SMR (RGL) Apr 79.

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