Recognising the Marine Heritage of Scapa Flow


Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is reviewing the protection of the wrecks of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow, Orkney. Currently, they are scheduled monuments and we would like to explore if that continues to be the best way of recognising and protecting this hugely important part of our wartime heritage.

Orkney has one of the most outstanding collections of First World War and Second World War remains, both above ground and under water.


Scapa Flow, Image courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland

The array of underwater archaeological remains includes wrecks from the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet in June 1919, two major naval disasters with significant loss of life (the loss of the HMS Vanguard in 1917, and HMS Royal Oak in 1939), and the supply and defence of the Royal Navy anchorage using block ships, barriers, and networks of mobile boom defences.

A major resource for salvage from 1919 to the 1970s, nowadays the wrecks of the German High Seas Fleet are a significant heritage asset, attracting visitors from all over the world and contributing to the economy of Orkney.

Recent survey work by ourselves and our partners on Orkney has shed new light on how much survives underwater. Our research shows that the condition of the wrecks is deteriorating and these important remains will not last forever.

Andrew Fulton, Senior Designations Officer, explains more about the review, “We’d like to talk to everyone who has an interest in Scapa Flow to hear their views about its marine heritage. Scapa Flow is an important harbour and is used by many different communities and we’d like to know more about this too.

“We’ll be in Orkney during the first week of December and I’d really like to talk to as many people with an involvement in Scapa Flow as possible. The feedback we get will help inform how the current protection of the German High Seas Fleet wrecks is working and whether any changes need to be made.

“I’m also looking for views on whether any of the other wartime underwater sites within Scapa Flow merit designation and if, so, what would be the best mechanism to achieve this.”

There are a variety of ways which the public can offer their views. We have an online survey which is open to everyone and can be accessed on our website. Andrew will be holding drop-in sessions at three locations in Hoy, Kirkwall and Stromness between 4 and 7 December 2017.

Everyone with an interest in Scapa Flow is encouraged to come along and share their views.

Event Details

Monday 4 December – YM Hall, Longhope, Hoy 3:30pm-7:30pm

Tuesday 5 December – Pickaquoy Centre, Kirkwall 4:00pm-8:00pm

Wednesday 6 December – John Rae Room, Old Warehouse Building, Orkney Council, Stromness. 5:00pm -8:00pm

Thursday 7 December – John Rae Room, Old Warehouse Building, Orkney Council, Stromness. 5:00pm-8:00pm

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