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Former barracks block including outbuildings and yard walls to rear and wash house to northeast, excluding custodian's cottage to northeast and scheduled monument SM90036, Blackness Castle, Blackness

A Category C Listed Building in Bo'ness and Blackness, Falkirk

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Latitude: 56.0053 / 56°0'19"N

Longitude: -3.5165 / 3°30'59"W

OS Eastings: 305530

OS Northings: 680186

OS Grid: NT055801

Mapcode National: GBR 1W.TMXY

Mapcode Global: WH5R3.YBM3

Entry Name: Former barracks block including outbuildings and yard walls to rear and wash house to northeast, excluding custodian's cottage to northeast and scheduled monument SM90036, Blackness Castle, Blackness

Listing Date: 25 October 2017

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406935

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52456

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Bo'Ness and Carriden

County: Falkirk

Electoral Ward: Bo'ness and Blackness

Parish: Bo'Ness And Carriden

Traditional County: West Lothian



The building is a former barracks block associated with Blackness Castle, built following the castle's conversion to a munitions depot in 1870 and likely by 1874. It lies on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, just south of Blackness Castle.

This is a two storey, 16-bay, rectangular plan, plain former barracks building, of tooled, squared and snecked sandstone with margins. It has rectangular doorways with windows above the doors, and 12-pane timber-framed, sash and case windows elsewhere. There is a slate roof and a mix of square and rectangular chimney stacks with tall, round clay pots. To the rear of the building are four connected outbuildings and a walled yard. In front of the east end of the barracks block is a small wash house.

The interior, seen in 2017, is divided into multiple sections, with the barrack rooms themselves most likely at the western end of the building where partially connected square-plan rooms can be accessed by external doors in the front elevation. In the centre of the barracks, there are larger rectangular plan rooms on both ground and first floor. The room on the first floor has visible wooden roof trusses, in keeping with its former use as a drill hall. In the eastern range at ground floor level, there are narrower rooms in use as workshops. The sections are generally plain, without architectural detailing, but some fireplaces and one iron range survive.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the custodian's cottage to the northeast, and scheduled monument SM90036.

Statement of Special Interest:

Dating to the period of army reforms undertaken by Lord Cardwell, the barracks block at Blackness Castle, along with the adjacent officers' quarters, are a rare surviving example of small-scale military accommodation buildings. Built to support the operations of Blackness Castle itself during its use as the main munitions storage depot for Scotland, the small complex of buildings and supporting facilities survive in their original layout, allowing their relationship and the function of the complex to be easily understood. The exterior of the barracks block appears little altered, and provides important evidence of military organisation and life in the late 19th and early 20th century.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the custodian's cottage to the northeast, and scheduled monument SM90036.

Age and Rarity

The building is a small example of a barracks, built between 1870 and 1874 following the conversion of Blackness Castle to a munitions depot for Scotland. The barracks building is present on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey mapping of the area, published in 1896.

The castle was used as a munitions depot between 1870 and 1919. To fulfil this function the castle buildings themselves were altered and roofed to provide a munitions storage space. An iron pier was constructed to the north of the castle, and used for loading and transporting explosives and weaponry. In addition, new buildings such as the officers' quarters and barrack block were created to provide accommodation and facilities for the men deployed to the depot.

During the last quarter of the 19th century, the expanding British Empire required more personnel for its administration and its security. To help with the recruitment and training of soldiers, the Secretary of State for War, Edward Cardwell, introduced the Military Localisation Bill in 1872, which created new recruiting and training centres around Britain.

The depot was established during the period of the "Cardwell Reforms", resulting in improvements to military accommodation including upgrading of existing facilities and construction of purpose built barracks, as here.

The barracks at Blackness are a rare example of a relatively small 19th-century military facility built on the site of a medieval high status building which continued in military use into the 20th century. Other larger examples include Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Dumbarton Castle. The size of the barracks reflects the small garrison deployed at the munitions depot.

The custodian's cottage to the northeast of the barracks does not meet the criteria for listing and has been excluded from the listing. It is of plain design. Such cottages are not a rare building type, and although this building is part of the wider complex of buildings, there are no distinguishing architectural features to this example.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The interior room layout of the building appears little altered, although some remodelling is likely to have taken place in keeping with the continuing use of the barracks in the 20th century as a hostel and later office, shop and workshop space. While some features survive, these are not considered to be unusual.

Plan form

The building is roughly rectangular in plan, with small outhouses extending to the south (rear) of the building. The centre section protrudes forwards of the main block and the eastern end of the structure is set slightly further back than the rest of the barracks.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The relatively plain design of the barrack building contrasts with the adjacent officers' quarters (LB 52455) which is built in the Scots Baronial Style with architectural detailing. This is typical of barrack buildings of this period which were becoming more purpose built, as opposed to earlier military accommodation at Blackness Castle, Edinburgh and Stirling, which were integrated within existing structures.


The barracks block is located south of both Blackness Castle and the former officers' quarters for the depot, occupying the same narrow headland. This is a strong defensive location, overlooking the seaways of the Firth of Forth. Also to the north is the iron pier used for loading munitions. The parade ground lies immediately in front of the barracks. The rear of the building faces inland to the south. The barracks itself stretches about three quarters of the width of the neck of the promontory, helping to restrict access to the rest of the depot from this direction.

The setting of the barracks has not changed substantially since it was laid out in the late 19th century.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2017).


Canmore: http://canmore.org.uk/ CANMORE ID 346474


Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1895, published 1896) Linlithgowshire 002.09 (includes: Abercorn; Bo Ness and Carriden) - Ordnance Survey 25 inch 2nd and later editions, Scotland, 1892-1949. 2nd Edition. 25 inches to one mile. Southampton: Ordnance Survey. Available at: http://maps.nls.uk/view/82895112 [Accessed 13 Jul. 2017].

Printed Sources

Douet, J. (1998). British Barracks 1600 - 1914: Their Architecture and Role in Society. 1st Edition. Norwich: The Stationery Office.

MacIvor, I. and Tabraham, C. (2003). Blackness Castle. 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland.

May, T. (2002). Military barracks. Princes Risborough: Shire

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