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Dalmeny Battery

A Category A Listed Building in Almond, Edinburgh

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Latitude: 55.9894 / 55°59'21"N

Longitude: -3.3822 / 3°22'56"W

OS Eastings: 313868

OS Northings: 678248

OS Grid: NT138782

Mapcode National: GBR 21.VN3Q

Mapcode Global: WH6SB.0QP9

Plus Code: 9C7RXJQ9+Q4

Entry Name: Dalmeny Battery

Listing Name: Dalmeny Battery, excluding engine house, oil store and caretaker's quarters to the east and boundary railings, South Queensferry

Listing Date: 9 May 2018

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406969

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52469

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dalmeny

County: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: Almond

Parish: Dalmeny

Traditional County: West Lothian


The building is a coast defence battery, dating to around 1903. Situated east of the viaduct approaching the Forth Rail Bridge and close to the south bank of the Forth, it formed part of the inner of three defensive lines of coast batteries established between 1900 and 1916 to defend the eastern approaches into the Forth. It was operational during the First World War.

The battery comprises two Quick Fire 4.7 inch gun emplacements, an underground magazine, and an observation post. The gun emplacements are built of reinforced concrete, with locker recesses in circular holdfasts, and semi-circular aprons to the north. Access stairs between the emplacements lead to a sunken brick-lined rectangular lightwell courtyard flanked with magazines, shell and cartridge stores. The interiors of the magazines and store rooms were seen in 2017. The walls are painted brick throughout. The stores are barrel-vaulted with ventilation recesses.

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 engine house, oil store and caretaker's quarters to the east, and boundary railings.

Statement of Interest

The twin gun battery at Dalmeny, South Queensferry, is an outstanding survival of pre-First World War coastal defences in Scotland. Operational from around 1903, it was an early and important part of an inner line of defence across the Firth of Forth that played an important role in defending the waters of the Forth and the key naval base at Rosyth from the threat of attack by sea by fast-moving enemy vessels during the First World War. Little altered since 1917, Dalmeny Battery retains significant potential to add to our knowledge and understanding of wartime military technology and strategy in the context of the coastal defence of eastern Scotland during the First World War.

The survival of these monumental concrete structures provides a tangible and powerful reminder of one of the defining events of the 20th century. In our current state of knowledge it is considered to meet the criteria for listing.

Age and Rarity

A War Office map dated to 1903 shows the location of existing buildings at that time, including the pair of 4.7inch Quick Fire (QF) gun emplacements near the west end of the site (TNA WO 78/5166). The gun emplacements are linked by a platform and overlie a shell store and magazine; the battery observation post and range finder (or DEL director) are situated just to the west of the emplacements. To the east of the site is an engine room, an oil store, and a building comprising a machine gun store, and caretakers' quarters.

The battery was operational during the First World War. The 4.7inch QF guns were moved from Dalmeny to Incholm in December 1916 when the defences of the Forth were revised to strengthen the defence system to the east. Two .303 machine guns remained.

There were over 47 coastal batteries in Scotland during the First World War (1914-18). Barclay (2013,22) identified 13-c.23 individual batteries in the First World War defences of the Forth, depending on how individual guns on Inchcolm and Inchkeith are counted. Dalmeny Battery formed part of the inner of three strategic lines of defence of the Firth of Forth and the Rosyth Naval Base from amphibious attack. It was not re-used during the Second World War as advances in technology had improved the standard of available defensive guns. As a result, during the Second World War, the defences were relocated eastward, with the original middle line becoming the new inner line, the outer line becoming the middle and a new outer line established between Elie and North Berwick.

The inner line gun batteries tend to have undergone less change than those found elsewhere in the Forth. It is rare to find elements such as metal fittings in situ, as reusable materials were often removed when the battery was decommissioned. Although clearance was conducted on many military sites following the end of the war, relatively little clearance has occurred in this case. For buildings which were deliberately constructed to be functional and without any overt architectural pretension the survival of these types of features is critical in determining merit for listing.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The barrel-vaulted construction of the interior of the underground magazine appears to be typical for batteries of early 20th-century date. There is interest to the interior as the rooms have not been substantially altered. For example, there are early 20th century metal supports, shelves and racking systems in the underground shell room. The magazines (running east to west) have ventilation recesses. These remains help to indicate the former function of the building.

In the eastern part of the site the engine house, oil store and caretaker's quarters survive to a varying degree. The engine house has since been filled in, however the railings survive. The caretaker's quarters have been altered considerably. The oil store survives however this was not considered to meet the criteria for listing.

Plan form

The plan form of the battery is of special interest illustrating the design and use of coastal batteries of late 19th and early 20th century date. Circular gun pits behind a concrete apron were served by magazines built deep underground, linked to small ammunition stores called expense magazines. In this example, the magazines are rectangular in plan. The underground magazines had an access well behind the emplacements, allowing for quick access by the battery crews. Adjacent to the gun emplacements, the plan form of the observation post adds additional interest for listing, comprising key elements such as a small telephone exchange room, a range finder pillar, and a searchlight direction post.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The design of the gun emplacements at Dalmeny reflect developments in artillery technology at the end of the 19th century which allowed batteries to mount light, powerful guns fixed on a central circular pivot. The design of the battery and its component elements has been carefully thought out, and it has been built using high quality materials, as evident in the vaulted brick-lined interiors. The magazines incorporate safety features and ventilation recesses.

Although built to a largely standardised design, the construction within a short period of time of such a major network of coastal batteries to defend vulnerable strategic interests around the coasts from enemy attack, required major mobilisation of materials and man-power to contribute to the war effort.


The buildings of the battery have been incorporated into a private house, with the remaining emplacements and underground magazine located within the garden grounds. Its wider setting is also of interest. Dalmeny Battery occupies a strategically significant location on high ground near the Forth Bridge, overlooking the Forth towards the north and the entrance of the estuary to the naval base at Rosyth to the west. Naval chiefs also feared the Forth Bridge, completed in 1890, would be a natural target for attack by sea. Together with the other inner line Forth batteries at North Queensferry (known as Carlingnose Battery, see LB52012, and Coastguard Battery), Hound Point, and the island of Inchgarvie, Dalmeny Battery was part of a network of over a dozen coastal batteries in the area. These were used to defend the navigation channels at the eastern approach into the Firth of Forth from incursion by fast-moving vessels. Their location and the range of different guns used across these batteries would have provided comprehensive defences against amphibious attack.

Regional variations

Coastal batteries were built to a largely standardised design, and although changes were made to suit local conditions, there are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

The First World War is one of the most significant events of modern history. Between 1914 and 1918 millions of individuals from across five continents were involved in an industrialised conflict on a global scale never previously seen. Over the four years of fighting, the war destroyed lives, communities and even entire landscapes, with over nine million military deaths, and an even higher number of civilian deaths by its end. The aftermath of the war brought sweeping political, social and economic changes and it has left a tangible impact on the modern world, both in the form of physical remains from the conflict and an enormous legacy of cultural memory and artistic and commemorative expression.

Dalmeny forms part of a network of coastal defences of eastern Scotland and its naval bases during the First World War. From 1900 onwards, the threat to Britain's naval supremacy from Germany was reflected in a coordinated programme of fixed defences at key strategic points along the UK coast line to counter the naval thread from fast-moving enemy vessels. In 1903, the Firth of Forth was officially classified as a Principal Naval Base. During 1907 a mock attack on the Forth was carried out by the Royal Navy's first submarine squadron to ensure it could be adequately defended. Construction of the Naval Dockyards at nearby Rosyth subsequently began in earnest in 1908.

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