Scheduled Monument

Scapa Flow, wrecks of 4 cruisers of German High Seas FleetSM9308

Status: Designated


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Date Added
20th Century Military and Related: Shipwreck
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
HY 34262 1651
334262, 1001651


The monument comprises the remains of four vessels of the German High Seas Fleet, scuttled in Scapa Flow on 21 June 1919, together with an area of sea bed around each wreck in which associated debris is scattered.

The four vessels comprise the light cruisers Brummer, Dresden, Karlsruhe and Koln (variously spelled Koln or Coln, with or without umlaut). Three lie to the NE of the island of Cava, while one (Karlsruhe) lies to the NW. These remains, along with three battleships being scheduled separately, are the only surviving examples of large vessels from the interned Fleet. In each case, a scatter of debris, formed in part when the vessel sank and surrounds the hull of the vessel in part by subsequent salvage attempts, accidental damage and slow attrition. Each debris field naturally lies on the side of the hull where most deck is exposed.

The cruisers range from 142m to 155m long and from 4308 to 5531 tons. The details for each of depth (shallowest point to deepest point of visible hull on seabed), bow orientation, attitude and latitude and longitude and Ordnance Survey National Grid Reference of the centre point of the hull are as follows:

Brummer: 23m to 46m deep, bows pointing NW, lying on starboard side, 58 degrees 53'.815 N, 003 degrees 09'.207 W, HY 33631 01622.

Dresden: 18m to 39m deep, bows pointing W by NNW, lying on port side, 58 degrees 52'.943 N, 003 degrees 08'.455 W, HY 34326 00003.

Karlsruhe: 15m to 26m deep, bows pointing W by NW, lying on starboard side, 58 degrees 53'.350 N, 003 degrees 11'.352 W, HY 31552 00807.

Koln: 22m to 36m deep, bows pointing NW, lying on starboard side, 58 degrees 53'.830 N, 003 degrees 09'.550 W, HY 34263 01650.

These vessels were interned in Scapa Flow following the Armistice that ended fighting in 1918. During the lengthy negotiations on a formal peace settlement that followed, a breaking point appeared to be close in June 1919, with a real prospect of renewed hostilities. The commander of the interned vessels, acting on a coded signal, arranged for the entire fleet to be scuttled to avoid their seizure and possible use against Germany. This action was largely successful, the relatively light British guard presence being able only to beach a few of the vessels before they sank. The beached vessels and all of the sunken vessels, except the three battleships and the four cruisers now proposed for scheduling, plus four light destroyers, were subsequently removed by salvors licensed by the British government.

The areas now to be scheduled consist of 4 circular areas of sea-bed, each 500m in diameter, formed by a radius of 250m drawn from the centre points given above. These areas include the hull of each vessel and the debris field associated with each and a small area around, in which further remains may survive below the surface sediment. These areas are indicated in red on the accompanying map extract. The definitive scheduled locations should be calculated according to normal marine practice by the latitude and longitude and radius given. These have been calculated by Global Positioning system based on standard WGS 84.



No Bibliography entries for this designation

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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