The monument comprises the remains of four coastal artillery batteries with associated accommodation camps and ancillary structures. Construction began in 1913 and the site was used in both the First and Second World War. It is visible as an extensive series of concrete and timber structures, hut bases and earthworks. The battery is located on the South Sutor headland, lying between 10m and 115m above sea level overlooking the Cromarty Firth.
The site comprises one First World War 9.2 inch gun emplacement, two First World War 4-inch QF (quick-firing) gun emplacements and two Second World War 6-inch gun emplacements. Other structures supporting the emplacements include two battery observation posts, four magazines, one engine house, two searchlight emplacements, one mine-watching observation post, a large water tank and at least twelve other accommodation, storage and maintenance buildings in varying degrees of survival, with the traceable foundations of further buildings around the site. Together with the batteries at North Sutor, it forms part of the defences of the Cromarty Firth in both world wars. The site was abandoned in the inter-war period and finally closed in 1956.
The scheduled area is irregular to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction and use is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.
Statement of National Importance
The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:
There is extensive survival of upstanding buildings and remains below ground. Within some of the buildings, there is evidence for survival of camouflage paint from both the First and Second World Wars. There are however some areas of decay, including cracking of reinforced concrete, extensive corrosion of steel features, and decay of some of the timber ancillary structures.
Coast artillery batteries were constructed around Scotland in both the First and Second World Wars to defend key strategic assets such as naval bases. They display an interesting degree of variation, given the officially 'standardised' nature of military structures, and often reflect the local availability of materials. Technical challenges presented by the strategically valuable site at South Sutor can be seen in the First World War 4-inch QF (quick-firing) gun battery and the Second World War searchlight emplacements, both of which were constructed in extremely challenging locations in order to maximise their effectiveness. The construction of the Sutor batteries by the Royal Navy rather than the Army has also given them a markedly different design from other coast batteries.
There is high potential for the survival of archaeological evidence both within and around the batteries, particularly around the accommodation buildings and the main battery structures, which can increase our understanding of the construction and use of the battery and the daily lives of the men who built and served on it.
Construction of the site began in 1913 and, although the building work was not entirely complete by the outbreak of the First World War, elements of the battery do appear to have been operational. The Second World War use of the site begins with the construction of the 6-inch battery in 1939, with the guns operational by November of that year, and the searchlights by December. The battery remained in use throughout the Second World War. It was placed on a 'care and maintenance' basis after the war, and finally closed in 1956. After its closure as a battery, the site was used as a Territorial Army centre for a time.
The Sutor batteries were a vital component of a national defensive system that extended from Shetland to Cornwall. Within Scotland, there were around 50 Coast batteries during the First World War and around 70 coast batteries during the Second World War. They were positioned to defend strategically significant targets from amphibious and naval attack. While some anchorages, such as Rosyth and Scapa Flow, had high numbers of batteries for their defence, at Cromarty only the North and South Sutor batteries were provided.
The survival of many of the ancillary structures at South Sutor make this the most complete surviving coast battery within Scotland. The extensive survival of camouflage paint from both the First and Second World War is particularly rare. At most sites, erosion and decay processes have worn this away entirely.
The role of the North and South Sutor batteries was to prevent entry of hostile or suspicious vessels into the Cromarty Firth. Each battery was carefully sited to maximise its strategic value. This battery is located on the headland of South Sutor, overlooking the shipping channel. The main area of the battery is located on sloping ground between around 90m and 115m above sea level, although elements such as the searchlights and the First World War 4-inch QF battery are located much lower down towards the shoreline, at around 10-20m above sea level. The batteries at North Sutor are clearly visible from the South Sutor complex.
The monument is a highly visible reminder of the key role the Cromarty Firth and the naval base at Invergordon played from 1912 in the defence of Britain during both the First and Second World War. It provides tangible evidence of the major wartime construction and engineering which took place around the Cromarty Firth and which had a significant impact on the local population and landscape.
Statement of National Importance
This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the defence of the important naval anchorage of the Cromarty Firth and the naval base at Invergordon during the First and Second World War. This is a well-preserved example of a multi-phase coastal artillery battery, preserving rare features from both wars, including fixtures, fittings and camouflage paintwork. Occupying a strategically significant location at the entrance to the Cromarty Firth, the remains at South Sutor provide a tangible and powerful reminder of some of the defining events of the 20th century. If this monument was to be lost or damaged, it would significantly affect our ability to understand the nature and scale of the efforts made to defend Britain against enemy naval threats in the First and Second World War, and diminish the association between those who live in the area today and those who lived and served there during the wars.