Grand Tour Of Scotland: Exploring Orkney #130

Day 7: 17 August 2019 ~ Views from The Churchill Barriers

The Churchill Barriers plaque, Orkney, Scotland
  • Location: The Churchill Barriers, Orkney, Scotland
  • Date Taken: 2019-08-17
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-200 mm F/3-5.6 IS
  • Exposure Program: Manual
  • F-Stop: f/5.6
  • Exposure Time: 1/500 sec
  • ISO Speed: ISO-400
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
  • Handheld

The Churchill Barriers

“The Churchill Barriers are four causeways on the Orkney Islands , with a total length of 2.3 kilometers (1.4 mi). They link the Orkney Mainland in the north to the island of South Ronaldsay via Burray, and the two smaller islands of Lamb Holm and Glimps Holm.

The barriers were built between May 1940 and September 1944, primarily as naval defences to protect the anchorage at Scapa Flow, but since 12 May 1945, serve as road links between the islands.

On 14 October 1939, the Royal Navy battleship HMS Royal Oak was sunk at her moorings within the natural harbor of Scapa Flow, by the German U-boat German submarine U-47 under the command of Günther Prien. U-47 had entered Scapa Flow through Holm Sound, one of several eastern entrances to Scapa Flow.

The eastern passages were protected by measures including sunken block ships, booms and anti-submarine nets, but the U-47 entered at night at high tide by navigating between the block ships.

To prevent further attacks, the First Lord of The Admiralty Winston Churchill ordered the construction of permanent barriers. Work began in May 1940 and the barriers were completed in September 1944 but were not officially opened until 12 May 1945, four days after Victory in Europe Day.

The bases of the barriers were built from gabions enclosing 250,000 tons of broken rock, from quarries on Orkney. The gabions were dropped into place from overhead cableways into waters up to 18 meters (59 ft) deep. The bases were then covered with 66,000 locally cast concrete blocks in five-tonne and ten-tonne sizes. The five-tonne blocks were laid on the core, and the ten-tonne blocks were arranged on the sides in a random pattern to act as wave-breaks.

Only minor environmental impacts have been seen as a result of their construction.

A project of this size required a substantial labour force, which peaked in 1943 at over 2,000.

Much of the labour was provided by over 1,300 Italian prisoners of war who had been captured in the desert war in North Africa; they were transported to Orkney from early 1942 onwards.

The prisoners were accommodated in three camps, 600 at Camp 60 on Little Holm and the remaining 700 at two camps on Burray.

In 1943, those at Camp 60 built an ornate Italian Chapel, which still survives and has become a tourist attraction.”

~Information from Wikipedia

Thank you very much for taking the time to join me on my travels through Scotland one Photo at a time. I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did.

If you like what you see please press the like button, share and leave a comment. I read all my comments, and try to answer them all.

Till next time, safe travels and keep dreaming.

Have a fabulous day.


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