MHG36636 - Army camp, Lochailort


A military camp, associated with the Special Operations Executive headquarters at Inverailort House (Castle).

Type and Period (2)

  • MILITARY CAMP (Second World War - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • NISSEN HUT (Second World War - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Part of the Lochailort Military Special Traning Centre is situated to the NE of Inverailort House (NM78SE 6). The 'Big House' was requisitioned in 1940 for special operations training. In the grounds to the NE a hutted camp was erected, consisting of mainly Nissen huts and other types. The camp is visible on vertical air photographs taken in 1946 (CPE/UK/Scot 178, frames 4367-4369, flown 7 October 1946), of at least 40 Nissen huts, four larger buildings and several smaller huts. The huts are tightly grouped in the field to the NE of Inverailort House.
Information from RCAHMS (DE), April 2008; S Allan 2007 <1>

Modern aerial photographs show definite traces of the hut bases. <2> <3>

Photographs of some of the buildings were submitted to the HER by Martin Briscoe in February 2010. <4>

More detailed photographs of various buildings were submitted to the HER by Martin Briscoe in September 2010. A copy of a plan from 1942 exists in Lochaber Archive. The extant buildings were identified and photographed during a site visit by Martin Briscoe. This includes a power house at NM 767 817, a Royal Engineers workshop at NM 76523 81521 (see attached records for photographs). The main range of extant buildings, centred on NM 76603 81728 is marked on the plan as Cook House with Boiler House, General Drying Room and Dress/Dressing Rooms for various groups. Two buildings, outwith the area shown on the plan, were photographed. They possibly represent ammunition stores (see attached record for photographs). The footprints of the nissen huts are visible on the ground, as well as on aerial photographs. <5> <6>

The copy of the plan referred to above was made by Mr Clyne, as the quality of the original was deteriorating. A copy was forwarded to the HER, and imported into the GIS and georectified. It shows the layout, largely as described by Martin Briscoe, above. <6>

A large number of the hut bases are visible on modern aerial photographs. <7> <8>

The buildings were proposed for scheduling, but the proposal was unsuccessful. The cinema/dance hall, indoor rifle ranges, sick bay and array of nissan huts have been dismantled and removed from the site. The structural elements of the site that survive, principally the former NAAFI block, recreation block, mess hall/shower block and the brick ammunition stores are essentially remnants of a much larger complex and have been much altered. <9>

A photographic record of the camp was forwarded to the HER by Harry Clyne. The surviving elements of the camp were photographed - the mess and recreation hall, the brick built toilet, generator shed, incinerator and ammunition stores. Many rocks in the vicinity are covered in marks left by bullets and traces of the training regime and infrastructure of the camp are still extant - including water tanks, pipework, target bases. Photographs of the steep sloped area to the S of the camp were also included. This area was named "Sniper's Valley" and traces of its use in manoeuvres are still evident - such as machine gun positions and slit trenches.

In 1944, the Navy took over the camp and erected additional buildings. Huts for WRENS were built on the lawn of Inverailort Castle. Foundations of these huts are still visible. <10>

Iain Thornber carried out a photographic survey of the standing buildings on behalf of Marine Harvest (Scotland) Ltd in 2010. This was submitted as part of a planning application for re-development of the Lochailort fish farm. A selection of photographs is included in the report. The full collection is held on CD. <11> <12> <13>

This camp is listed on the website "Combined Ops Training Establishments" as HMS Lochailort, a school for boat officers, and the website states that the Royal Navy took over the premises in 1942. See link to website below. <14>

A desk-based assessment and oral reminisence exercise for the camp was carried out by CFA Archaeology in 2012 as part of works associated with the proposed Marine Harvest development. <15>

A metal detector survey of the area to the east of the known camp was carried out by members of the Scottish Detector Club on behalf of CFA Archaeology Ltd in 2011. A wide variety of finds were recovered, 296 objects in total, including 84 spent bullets. <16> <17>

Photographs were contributed by Martin Briscoe in July 2011 via the Highland HER Flickr group. <18>

The site was visited and photographed by Andrew Puls of the Highland Council in August 2013. <19>

A 19th-20th century excavation assemblage from Lochailort (assumed to be from the 2011 survey by CFA) was submitted to Treasure Trove (TT 51/15) and disclaimed. <20>

Sources/Archives (21)



Grid reference Centred NM 7656 8169 (353m by 387m) Estimated from sources. Outline based upon 1951 AP
Map sheet NM78SE
Geographical Area LOCHABER

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (4)

Related Investigations/Events (3)

External Links (2)

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