Statement of National Importance
The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):
a. The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the military heritage of Scotland, in particular the history of early 20th century military training and First World War internment and imprisonment. The internment of civilians of enemy nations and imprisonment of captured soldiers was a significant social historical aspect of the First World War. Stobs was the primary camp for such internment in Scotland.
b. The monument retains structural, architectural, decorative or other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. The surviving elements help us understand the functions and processes of a major military training and prisoner of war camp operational in 20th century Scotland.
c. The monument is a very rare example of an extensive, military camp with upstanding remains covering many of the contemporary functions. The level of survival of the prisoner of war hut, store hut and officers' hut are particularly rare, especially the completeness of the overall plan layout. The First World War prisoner of war hut is the last surviving upstanding example at a camp in the UK.
d. The monument is a significant example of a fairly standardised military facility that had a key role in local, regional, national and international socio-economic life in 20th century Scotland and is therefore an important representative of this monument type. The monument played an important role in the training of troops and the British war effort in both World Wars.
e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past. The remains at Stobs Camp played an important role in the First World War, a crucial event in world history. The associated prisoner of war camp, later used for resettlement of Polish troops and the remains of the internee cemetery along with a wide collection of detailed documentary sources provides further potential to study the history of Stobs and similar military camps and their contribution to, and impact on, life in Scotland and even overseas.
f. The monument makes a significant contribution to today's landscape and/or our understanding of the historic landscape by serving as a physical reminder of the importance of military camps and wartime internment in Scotland and its role in society.
g. The monument has significant associations with major historical events. It is directly linked to the First and Second World Wars, two of the defining global events of the 20th Century.
Assessment of Cultural Significance
This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:
- Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)
Stobs Camp was originally intended as a permanent training base and barracks but this scheme was cancelled in 1904. After this date the site developed over several main phases which can be summarised as:
- the pre-First World War summer training camps in tented accommodation on the slopes west of Barnes Burn,
- the pre-First World War development of permanent camp buildings generally around and south of Barns House,
- the early First World War development of features around the camp including ancillary buildings and training trenches and fortification systems,
- the First World War purpose-built civilian internment camp west of Barnes Burn,
- the extension and development of the internment camp during the First World War into a prisoner of war camp,
- the use of the camp for military training use (not for prisoner of war accommodation) in the interwar period and during the Second World War, and its use as a resettlement camp for Polish troops after the Second World War.
Contemporary plans and images of the camp survive and greatly help in identifying the purpose of the physical remains visible today. The most significant and best understood phase of activity at Stobs Camp was during the First World War when the site was a crucial training camp for troops and then the primary internment and prisoner of war camp in Scotland. At the peak of wartime activity as a prisoner of war camp, Stobs Camp was divided into two areas; the eastern portion provided accommodation huts and mess quarters for guards and officers and administration buildings. The western side was the secured camp, first for internees and then for prisoners of war.
The plan form of the eastern camp area can still be clearly understood with surviving concrete hut bases, various minor earthworks and bunding, practice trench systems and training fortifications/dugouts, brick and concrete drying rooms, a timber and sheet metal storage building and a timber and sheet metal officers' accommodation hut. The timber and metal structures are rare survivals from the early 20th century period in Scottish military history. The storage building (NT 50305 09366) measures around 9.5m by 18.75m, constructed from corrugated iron panels with a high roof and nine steel cables run externally from the roof to the ground. The nearby officers' hut (NT 50244 09240) is rectangular and single-storey measuring about 30m by 6.5m, constructed from corrugated iron panels with external features including the remains of a veranda and picket fence on the north.
A key feature in the eastern area of Stobs Camp is the cemetery where 45 German soldiers, sailors and civilians who died at Stobs were interred (NT 50454 09606). At the west end of the cemetery, on a raised area with stone steps leading to it from the graves, was a memorial to the dead with stone benches placed to the north and south. When the camp closed, the graves were removed to the German Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire and the memorial at Stobs was reportedly blown up. However, the base of the memorial and stone rubble survived, and they were reconstructed in 2018. Stones found at the cemetery were selected and cleaned before the memorial was assembled and efforts were made to locate the facing stones visible in First World War photographs.
The western portion of Stobs was developed as the internment camp and then prisoner of war camp. By 1917 this part of the camp was a large compound measuring internally about 750m by 280m surrounded by a heavy triple-barbed wire fence. There was a sentry post at each of the corners of the compound fence and other posts at 70-100 metre intervals round the perimeter. This fenced area was split into A, B, C and D compounds and each had a suite of buildings such as stores, kitchen, boiler house and accommodation huts. Each camp compound had twenty accommodation huts and in total up to 4500 men were accommodated.
The plan form of the western portion of the camp is still understandable from the surviving remains, and these are similar to those found at the east. The layout of the camp can be seen through the surviving road network and concrete hut bases. Notably, there is a single surviving First World War prisoner of war accommodation hut (NT 50126 09614). This is a unique example of a First World War prisoner of war hut that is still in its original location in the UK. The single storey hut is mostly of timber and sheet metal construction, measuring around 36.5m by 6m, and rests on brick and concrete plinths. Some windows and glazing survive and metal flues in the roofline for stoves. Internal features such as the shower and ablutions area at the north end of the hut still survive. This area of Stobs Camp also included a hospital, YMCA and arts theatre, operating theatre, mortuary, bakery, post offices and workshops and these survive as foundations and hut bases. There are also standing brick and concrete structures used as drying rooms and various minor earthworks and bunding. There survives a significant amount of camp infrastructure including a reservoir and freshwater system, on site waterworks, an internal road and narrow-gauge rail network. At the northeast edge of the camp is the remains of the water treatment works (NT 49924 09851) containing three rectangular and three octagonal concrete tank bases. A bridge constructed of concrete (NT 50089 09423) over Barnes Burn leads into the western camp area. Southwest of the bridge, Barnes Burn is collected into a pond by a concrete dam (NT 50047 09369). This was used as a bathing pool.
The training trenches and practice fortifications are in three groups around the eastern camp area and likely date from across the early to mid-20th century. A collection immediately northwest of Barns House (approximately NT 502 094) include well-preserved practice defences that can be matched with contemporary photos of their construction. Another group of trenches lie east of Barns House (approximately NT 504 093), some were partially excavated in a recent community archaeology project which helps provide further modern evidence of their construction and use. The final group of trenches lie in two areas (approximately NT 500 090 and NT 500 088) within fields southwest and south-southwest of Barns Cottage.
The largely complete plan-form of this camp makes Stobs a very rare and significant site. The camp has undergone changes and adaptations to structures and its plan, particularly the partial clearance of the site after its closure in 1957. However, ground survey, study of aerial imagery and comparison with contemporary plans and photographs allows us to confidently identify many archaeological features on site. The above ground remains such as the standing buildings are very rare survivors and greatly add to the importance of Stobs as a physical reminder of military training and wartime activities on home soil. There is high potential for surviving archaeological evidence both within and around the camp. The impressive array of remains and archaeological features covering all the various functions and activities of the camp helps us to understand its use and the daily lives of the men who built, worked, trained and were imprisoned there.
- Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)
Stobs Camp was one of the largest military training sites within Britain in the first half of the 20th century and it was used by hundreds of thousands of troops over its operational lifetime. The site was established in 1903 and it was operated by the army until 1957, when most of the site was sold, with the remainder a few years later. During this extended period, the site was also used for a variety of functions in addition to military training including its use as a civilian internee camp and a prisoner of war camp. The extended use of the site, the concentration of remains and the additional functions it was put to, makes Stobs Camp a rare survival amongst military training sites.
The Stobs estate was bought by the War Office in 1902, initially with the intention of providing a permanent training and barracks complex for the British Army 6th Corps. By 1904 changes to the structure of the army led to Stobs changing roles from a barracks to a primarily summer training camp, some troops coming from the regular army forces but the majority from the many volunteer units around Britain. The volunteer units were formally reclassified as the Territorial Force during the Haldane Reforms in 1908, and Stobs continued to be used for annual summer training camps. Stobs Castle (LB2066), designed by Robert Adam around 1792, was the seat of the original estate Located around 1km east of Stobs Camp, it was used to house senior ranking military personnel and administration staff.
With the advent of the First World War, Stobs Camp was changed to operating as a year-round training facility, to accommodate the high numbers of new recruits during the conflict, and at the same time part of the site was turned into an internment camp, initially for civilian detainees from enemy nations and later for prisoners of war. Although most of the visiting troops to the camp both before and during the First World War were accommodated within tents during their time at the camp, permanent facilities were constructed for the core functions of the camp, including training ranges.
The monument forms part of the network of prisoner of war camps in Britain. Stobs was the main administrative centre and camp for Scotland. Prisoners arrived in Scotland at Stobs and some were relocated to satellite camps. For example, records suggest up to 1200 prisoners of war arriving at Stobs were then stationed at Kinlochleven camp (SM13681).
In the 1950s, Stobs was mainly used as a training base for the Territorial Army with the last military activity on site in 1955. The military use in the 1950s included training of troops for the Korean War and this period appears to be less well publicly documented. In 1957, it was announced Stobs would cease operating as a training base and the site was partly cleared in 1959.
The wider landscape around the main Stobs Camp contains extensive further remains of the military training area. These ancillary features were constructed and used by the troops based at Stobs and were vital parts of the function of the wider camp. Other remains still identifiable within the former training area are the remains of the Acreknowe training trenches, Stobs Camp, 500m NW of Acreknowe (SM13768), Blakebillend, tracked target range, 750m WNW and 570m and 740m NW of Penchrise Peel (SM13769) and Stobs Camp rifle ranges, 650m W, 330m WNW and 450m SSE of White Knowe (SM13755).
- Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)
The monument forms the core of the substantial military training and internment camp complex at Stobs, directly linked to both the First and Second World Wars. The Stobs Camp complex is highly significant as an example of both a military training site for much of the first half of the 20th century, including both world wars, and as a First World War internment site for both civilians and later prisoners of war. The complex has a high potential to inform us about many aspects of military and civilian life during the First and Second World War, and their impact upon Scotland's society, economy and population.