Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
Planning Authority
Orkney Islands
Walls And Flotta
ND 30229 94614
330229, 994614


1915-1954, Royal Naval Cemetery. L-plan Commonwealth War Graves cemetery with prominent centrally located war memorial, the Cross of Sacrifice, by Sir Reginald Blomfield, 1925, set between 2 shelter pavilions, and situated at the former Royal naval base in Lyness.

WAR MEMORIAL AND PAVILIONS: The Cross of Sacrifice war memorial designed for war graves is surmounted on a stepped octagonal base. The memorial is a tall granite Latin cross with a downward pointed bronze sword fixed to the north east face. The words 'THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE' are inscribed onto the octagonal base. 2 square-plan stone pavilions attributed to Ralph Hobday date to 1939-1954. The west pavilion has an arched opening to the east wall with stugged voussoirs, and plain elevations elsewhere. Attached is a flanking quadrant wall, semi-rounded at ends, with granite coping stones. There are 2 arched openings to east pavilion, with stugged voussoirs and a flanking wall to the south. Eaves course to all elevations of both pavilions, including prominent, stugged keystones with pitched and slated roofs.

WAR GRAVES AND OTHER MEMORIALS: predominantly parallel rows of numerous granite Admiralty Cross gravestones with carved anchor detail, and Celtic Cross memorials, with other sandstone, marble and granite gravestones. Further rectangular-plan burial ground attached to the north west at right angles, containing a number of graves of fallen from various Commonwealth and allied countries such as Norway, as well as graves of fallen German servicemen.

FORMER MORTUARY AND CHAPEL: circa 1925. Rubble built, presently in use as a tool shed (2013). Located to the west of rear gate. It has two horizontal windows to the west wall and two large timber boarded doors to north gable wall, with a timber louvred ventilation opening above. The roof is pitched and slated.

BOUNDARY WALLS AND GATEPIERS: circa 1925. Rectangular-plan rubble flagstone wall encloses cemetery. Semi-rounded entrance gatepiers to the north with granite coping stones and inscription panels and timber gate. Granite plaques to piers inscribed 'LYNESS NAVAL CEMETERY' and '1914-1918 1939-1945'. Flagged area in front of entrance gates to roadside. Rear timber gate in south wall.

Statement of Special Interest

The Royal Naval Cemetery at Lyness is a lasting reminder of the British involvement in the First and Second World Wars, and is part of a wider group with other significant military buildngs associated with the First and Second World Wars in the area (see separate listings). The cemetery is significant to the history of Scotland at war and represents one of the first cemeteries administered by the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC, present day Commonwealth War Graves Commission or CWGC). It has a Type B Cross of Sacrifice, designed by one of 3 principle architects appointed by the IWGC, Sir Reginald Blomfield, who an important British architect of the era and a key figure in the development of Imperial War Graves memorials.

The site of the Royal Naval Cemetery at Lyness was acquired by the Admiralty in 1915 when Scapa Flow was the administrative base of the grand fleet, and the Navy needed a resting place for fallen seamen. By 1 July 1927 the site was officially under the care and maintenance of the IWGC. It may be one of the earliest sites administered by the IWGC. The site was officially purchased by the CWGC in 1977.

The cemetery contains the graves of sailors from both World Wars marked by Admiralty Crosses, including the graves of 445 Commonwealth sailors from the First World War, 109 of which are unidentified. Some of the fallen lost their lives locally, and therefore have a direct association with Scapa Flow, for example the casualties from HMS Vanguard and Hampshire are interred here.

The focal point of the Royal Naval Cemetery at Lyness is the Cross of Sacrifice, erected in 1925, which is commonly associated with UK war graves cemeteries. Of the four types of Cross (A1, A, B, and C) in existence, the one at Lyness represents the only Type B Cross of Sacrifice in Scotland. It is an unusually large size of cross for the relatively low number of casualties buried in the cemetery, and may have been selected to recognise the status of the cemetery and to be visible from the sea. It is the only listed example of a CWGC cemetery in Scotland. The cemetery also has the largest concentration of war graves in Scotland, with the largest in the UK being at Brookwood Cemetery (also known as the London Necropolis) near Woking, Surrey.

Prior to the First World War, Britain was considered to be most at risk of attack from continental Europe and the British Navy was based on the south coast of England. However the changing political situation at the beginning of the 20th century meant that the threat changed to focus on the German Navy in the Baltic sea. It was this, combined with the geography of the Orkney Islands which was the impetus for moving part of the Grand Fleet to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. Scapa Flow is is one of the world's largest natural harbours and it is mostly enclosed by surrounding islands, including Hoy, where Lyness overlooks Scapa Flow.

The enormous impact on the Orkney Islands of both World Wars has left us with an important legacy of military structures, many of which do not survive elsewhere in the UK.

By 1942 the naval base at Lyness supported thousands of military and civilian personnel. Lyness would become a self-contained town that provided accommodation, recreational and practical facilities for the number of service men and women who were stationed there during the First and Second World War. Site is owned and administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (2014).

Previously listed as 'Wall (Hoy), Lyness Naval Cemetery Including Pavilions, War Memorial and Boundary Wall'. Category changed from C to B, and listed building record updated as part of the military review of Lyness (2014).



Ordnance Survey. (Published 1948) Orkney Islands (South). 1 inch to the mile, popular. London: Ordnance Survey.

Burgher, L (1991) Orkney: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. 1st Ed. Edinburgh: Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. pp. 77-78.

English Heritage (2003) Twentieth Century Military Sites.

J Gifford (1992), Buildings Of Scotland: Highlands and Islands. London: Penguin Group. p 341.

Guy, J. (1993) Orkney Islands World War One and Two Defences. (Vol 2).

Hewison, W.S. (1985) This Great Harbour, Scapa Flow. Stromness: Orkney Press. p.230. [accessed February 2014]

Commonwealth War Graves Commission. [Accessed February 2014] [accessed February 2014]

About Listed Buildings

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.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to ROYAL NAVAL CEMETERY, LYNESS, HOY

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 29/11/2021 06:19