Scheduled Monument

Ness of Sound, coastal battery 470m SE ofSM13030

Status: Designated


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Date Added
20th Century Military and Related: Battery
Local Authority
Shetland Islands
HU 47111 39066
447111, 1139066


The monument comprises the remains of a Second World War coastal defence battery, built in 1940. The two gun emplacements, battery observation post, two (of originally three) searchlight emplacements and the engine room survive as upstanding concrete buildings. Other ancillary structures survive either as upstanding buildings or are represented as concrete foundations. The battery is located 2.3 km SSW of Lerwick, overlooking the southern approach to the Bressay Sound, and lies about 10m above sea level on gently sloping ground above low cliffs.

The two gun emplacements are substantial concrete structures, of similar scale but different design. One gun emplacement (Emplacement 1) measures about 11m square and faces southeast, while Emplacement 2 is around 10m by 12m and faces just south of east. Both splay outwards towards the front and are partly sunken into the gentle slope. The battery observation post is a structure of similar size, positioned 6m west of the first emplacement. The magazine, a double-roomed subterranean structure, is located 12m to the northwest of Emplacement 1. These principal structures are connected by a network of corridors made of cast concrete and covered with corrugated iron. Other parts of the battery are located away from this cluster of buildings and include: the engine house (about 50m to the west); the reserve searchlight emplacement (90m to the SSW); Searchlight Emplacement 1 (45m to the SE, but now collapsed); Searchlight Emplacement 2 (75m to the NNE); and a reserve engine house (120m to the NW). In addition, there are the remains of other support structures, including an auxiliary building or guardhouse, 95m to the west, and the concrete footings of the accommodation camp buildings, which extend to about 70m north of the gun emplacements.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan and includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Towards the north end of the west boundary, the scheduled area extends up to but excludes the remains of a stone wall, while further south along the same boundary, it extends up to but excludes a post-and-wire fence. The scheduling specifically excludes the post-and-wire fences that cross the scheduled area to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The main structures are built of concrete and survive in fair to good condition. The upstanding parts of the support buildings, originally of wood and metal, have been removed, but the structures are represented at foundation level by concrete bases with diagnostic features, such as the waste pipes in the ablution block. Although the main functional buildings are fortifications, they were probably completed at short notice in adverse conditions and using local materials. Both the gun and searchlight emplacements show a range of different designs that appear to reflect a development sequence as the construction progressed. Many interesting details survive, including: the main armament holdfasts; steps and fireplaces in the gun emplacements; and the concrete stand for the position finder in the battery observation post. Interesting outlying features include a small concrete-lined pit beyond the SW searchlight emplacement, which has been identified as the section observation post. The main functional structures are easy to understand and appreciate and give a vivid impression of how Lerwick was defended during the Second World War. The survival of the foundations of the accommodation camp means that the complete range of structures that formed and supported the battery is represented on this site.

Contextual characteristics

This well-preserved battery is an example of the coastal defences that were used during World War Two around the coast of the United Kingdom to defend strategic military assets or protect certain land areas. Relatively few comparable examples survive today in such good condition. The battery defended the approach to the southern end of the Bressay Sound and was an important part in the defence of Lerwick, and specifically, Lerwick harbour. It represents an important, visible and easily understood component of the military infrastructure developed around Lerwick, and is an iconic reminder of the war effort in Shetland. It conveys something of the strategy, equipment and capability of the British forces and the efforts to combat potential invasion of the United Kingdom by German forces. The battery represents part of the response to this perceived threat of imminent invasion in 1940 by the so-called 'back door' to the British Isles.

Associative characteristics

The Shetland SMR holds a schematic plan titled 'Ness of Sound, layout of battery, secret'.

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the mechanism and strategy for defending strategic assets in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. It survives in fair to good condition with the majority of its functional structures intact. Differences in the gun and searchlight emplacements display the evolution of designs as the battery was being built. It is a lasting component of a wider contemporary landscape, specifically the defences that ringed Lerwick and served to protect Shetland and the northern fringes of the British Isles in 1940.




Friel, R, 2002 Condition report, coastal defence battery, Ness of Sound

Ness of Sound, layout of battery, secret. Plan held by Shetland SMR

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

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Printed: 20/05/2019 20:31