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Royal Naval Cemetery, Lyness, Hoy

A Category B Listed Building in Stromness and South Isles, Orkney Islands

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.8333 / 58°49'59"N

Longitude: -3.2103 / 3°12'37"W

OS Eastings: 330229

OS Northings: 994614

OS Grid: ND302946

Mapcode National: GBR L5FC.XTP

Mapcode Global: WH6BN.N7HN

Entry Name: Royal Naval Cemetery, Lyness, Hoy

Listing Date: 31 January 2002

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 395734

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48348

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Walls and Flotta

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: Stromness and South Isles

Traditional County: Orkney

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Description

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 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).

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