Celtic stone cross against scenic backdrop, Steven Marshall Photograhy
The Ardgour War Memorial commemorates the men from the area lost during the First World War. While scouting the site ahead of a nightshoot, local photographer Steven Marshall was intrigued by what he saw.
“The Memorial itself is typical of the many that you find scattered across the Highlands, consisting of a granite Celtic cross and plinth mounted on a base of what seemed to be made of local stone… I noticed that the Memorial’s stone base was sitting on what appeared to be a metal ring with several bolts protruding from it… the more that I thought about them, the more I couldn’t help wondering what they had been used for.”
His subsequent research revealed that the memorial was built on the site of a gun battery erected in 1917. Its construction used one of the concrete slabs and steel rings- or ‘holdfast’- used to secure the weapons in place.
The gun battery was intended to provide protection for ships unloading naval mines at Corpach, to be taken up the Caledonian Canal to a US naval base in Inverness. From here they were transported north to be used as part of the ‘North Sea Mine Barrage’, a 230-mile-long mine field stretching from Orkney to Norway, at that point the largest ever laid. The intention was to prevent German U-Boats entering the Atlantic and attacking convoys bringing supplies from the US to Britain. A huge undertaking costing over the equivalent of 1 billion pounds in today’s money, it was largely considered a success.
“So there you have it, a tiny little bit of history hidden beneath the Ardgour War Memorial in the form of a steel ring and some bolts giving a small clue of something that went before. I would never have thought that these incongruous bolts would have been part of what today would be the equivalent of a £1bn military project that is thought to have played a key part in bringing World War I to an end.”