Invergarry ROC Observation Post

01 August 2011

News Type:
Site of the Month

This underground bunker at South Laggan is one of the number of observation posts built by the Royal Observer Corps in the Highlands in the 20th century. During the second World War ROC observation posts were used for 24 hour aircraft surveillance. Later, in the 1960s, underground bunkers were built or reused as part of the cold war, designed to monitor nuclear fallout. They were constructed of reinforced concrete, covered by earth mounds, with ventilation shafts. Over 60 ROC posts were built in the Highlands (see the Subterranea Britannica website for a list of known examples).

ROC observation posts were built along the Great Glen, with examples at Fort William, Spean Bridge, South Laggan, Drumnachrochit and Inverness, where the headquarters was situated in the Raigmore estate. This strategic area along the Great Glen was a restricted area, requiring barriers at certain points, and transport permits.

The ROC post at South Laggan (called Invergarry ROC post) was manned during WWII. The father of a local resident was one of several local men enlisted to carry out observations at the bunker, trained to identify, record and report all passing aircraft. Bakelite models of aircraft were hung from the ceiling to help with identification, and the bunker contained cards illustrating all the different types of aircraft. She remembers sleeping overnight in the bunker as a child when her father was on night shift, climbing down a steep ladder set in a square well. There were bunks along the walls for the men.

The ROC observation posts in the Highlands were decommissioned in the early 1990s, and a number have been demolished (eg at Dingwall) or are now decaying. Most are locked and inaccessible, although an ARCH Community Timeline course in Tomatin was able to gain access to the interior of the ROC post there (see picture on right)

Further information:
Subterranea Britannica website.
Contains a list of known sites in the Highlands

Wikipedia entry for Royal Observation Corps
A very detailed entry with a number of links.

The ROC post at South Laggan was researched by Stroma Riungu as one of a number of sites, finds or buildings investigated in an ARCH Community Timeline course. A display of the results can be seen at the Glengarry Heritage Society at Glengarry Hall, Invergarry during August 2011. There is also a binder containing resources at the Glengarry Heritage Society and in Fort William Library.

Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH), The Goods Shed, The Old Station, Strathpeffer, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV14 9DH
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