The post-medieval period saw a transformation in the design of fortifications built in Perth and Kinross. At the beginning of the 1600s, most defensive structures in the region were broadly medieval in design, with tower houses remaining popular as symbols of lordship and strong-points in times of political instability. Although Renaissance style artillery defences were constructed in the Scottish Borders and along the east coast during the mid-16th century, the gunpowder revolution only had a minimal impact on the type of fortifications present in Perth and Kinross before James VI departed for England in 1603. However, during the 17th and 18th centuries, the military architecture of the region began to reflect the changed situation brought about by artillery weapons.
During the 1650s a new Cromwellian Citadel (MPK3478) was built to the south of Perth by General Monck. This was a modern artillery fort with angled bastions and not unlike other garrison forts Cromwellian armies built at Ayr, Leith, Inverlochy and Inverness. The citadel at Perth was gradually demolished in the decades after 1745. However, basic plans of the defences are shown on the military maps of Perth created by Lewis Petit in the 1710s and by Jasper Leigh Jones in the 1740s. The south-west bastion of the Cromwellian citadel at Perth has been excavated, although more investigation in the vicinity of the former fort could be beneficial (Roy 2002). The construction of the citadel had a marked effect on the local townscape as it reused stone from surrounding buildings. Equally, the demise of the citadel was an opportunity for local residents to quarry for materials. Further artillery defences were constructed around the burgh of Perth during the Jacobite rising of 1715. Petit’s plans of these structures survive. Surprisingly limited physical evidence has been found of the Jacobite defences at Perth (MPK15242; Bowler 2004, 63). This might reflect loss, or could be because Petit’s plan represented an aspiration rather than what was actually built. When the opportunity arises, careful investigation of sites which may lie on the line of these fortifications should be a priority.
The instability of the 17th and 18th centuries led to numerous troops in Perth and Kinross. These were housed in a mix of purpose-built barracks and adapted older buildings, such as the now demolished Gowrie House (MPK3501) in Perth. In Coupar Angus Cumberland Barracks (MPK11162) still survives, and underwent conservation earlier this century. This site was used by government forces in 1745, although when the building was actually constructed is unclear. Further research into this significant standing building would be desirable. Better understanding of the site of the 18th-century Rannoch Barracks (MPK11799) at Bridge of Gaur would also be beneficial. The modern big house of the same name is a later structure built near the original barracks.
There is a need for more study of troop movements in Perth and Kinross during the 17th and 18th centuries. Many questions remain about issues such as the sites used by soldiers during the construction of the military road network, or locations of camps used by both sides in 1745. While written records are likely to be integral to researching these topics, field survey of relevant sites and test pitting could also be helpful. At present we have a very limited understanding of to what extent more transitory post-medieval military activities left a physical trace in the landscape of Perth and Kinross.
By the end of the 18th century, the decreasing likelihood of rebellion in Scotland meant that Perth and Kinross lost much of its strategic significance. As a result, fewer efforts were made to fortify sites in the 19th century. However, troops were still based in the region. From the 1790s to the 1960s there were barracks at Perth (MPK10216) near the road now known as Barrack Street. In the 1880s this site became the regimental depot for the Black Watch. Although these barracks were demolished in the 20th century, boundary markers still survive and have been recorded by Historic Environment Scotland. During the mid-19th century, another barracks (MPK10409) was located on the north side of Victoria Street in Perth, between James Street and Scott Street. Thus far, very little research has been undertaken into this site. The period after the ending of the Crimean War in 1856 saw a notable expansion in volunteer units. This led to the creation of several local training sites, such as rifle ranges and drill halls. Many of these buildings and outdoor spaces also served other purposes, and more documentary and physical study to identify locations used by volunteer units would be desirable.
In the early 20th century, the two World Wars increased military activity across most of Scotland, including Perth and Kinross. The World War One Audit of Surviving Remains undertaken by RCAHMS and Historic Scotland provides a helpful overview of military sites from this period. An important study of the archaeology of the Scottish Command Line, a series of major anti-tank ‘stop-lines’ from 1940 has also been carried out (Barclay 2011). However, some less obvious remains, such as First World War practice trenches, may have been overlooked. Drill halls, hospitals and prisoner of war camps make-up a large proportion of the 20th century sites with military associations in Perth and Kinross, and the degree of study they have received is very variable. The prisoner of war camp at Cultybraggan (MPK9217) is a particularly well-preserved example of a Second World War prison camp and has considerable potential for research and public engagement activities.
It should be noted that military activity in Perth and Kinross during the 20th century was not restricted to British forces. During the Second World War, the region hosted important parts of the Polish Army, including the headquarters for the Polish 1st Corps and the training ground for what would become the 1st Polish Armoured Division (Maresch 2006; Wawer and Suchitz 2006; Connelly 2016). Recent years have seen worthwhile projects intertwining oral history with documentary and physical evidence about sites associated with Polish troops. The Canadian Forestry Corps and the Norwegian Army were also active in Perth and Kinross during the Second World War. The Norwegian camp at Dall is a particularly interesting site and there has been some documentary research into its history (MPK17723; Aanensen 1974; Fjaerli 1982).
There were several First and Second World War military airfields in Perth and Kinross. In the Second World War at least 11 aerodromes or landing strips in the region were deemed to have a military significance (G Barclay, pers comm). While some of these sites, such as the First World War airfield at South Kilduff (MPK18541), have few visible remains, others have substantial surviving structures, often in poor repair. Further consideration of how best to study and preserve these sites should be a priority. The region was also the scene of several aircraft crashes, with six crash sites noted in the Historic Environment Record. Some of these locations have since had memorials erected, such as the stone and tree at Fearnan which commemorates four airmen (three Russian and one Czechoslovakian) who died there in 1943.
|MPK15246||British Albermarle P1503 Crash Site, Fearnan||NN 7238 4506||29 May 1943|
|MPK15247||RAF Sea Hawk WF224 Crash Site, Oldwood Farm||NO 2300 2520||Date and exact crash site unknown|
|MPK17585||Airspeed Oxford I: Loch Laidon||NN 3562 5327||2 March 1942|
|MPK18207||Hawker Hurricane I: Loch Leven||NO 1400 0100||16 April 1943|
|MPK18208||Hawker Hurricane I: Loch Leven||NO 1400 0100||7 March 1943|
|MPK18221||Miles Master I: River Tay||NO 2800 2100||17 February 1944|
The introduction of aeroplanes made areas much further from the frontline at potential risk of attack. Britain already had an established air-raid precautions system by the outbreak of the Second World War (Simey and Williams 1939; Baker 1978; Greenhalgh 2017). In urban areas, local air-raid warden posts often took the form of windowless concrete buildings, sometimes erected in small open spaces or even backyards. We currently have limited knowledge about these sites in Perth and Kinross. Oral history may be one route into studying their location, although individual air-raid shelters, such as Anderson Shelters, are unlikely to have survived. However, it would be interesting to know the extent to which people felt it necessary to build these in the region, and again local reminiscences may prove helpful (Taylor 2010).
The mid and late 20th century saw increasing concern about nuclear war. Planning for a possible nuclear war was undertaken in much greater secrecy than earlier military activity. Many of the written records associated with this period have only recently been released and others may still be restricted. Partly because of their recent military sensitivity, there has been little study of the physical remains from the Cold War in Perth and Kinross. Files from the Royal Observer Corps, held in the National Archives at Kew, reveal that the ROC had several sites in Perth and Kinross, which were probably intended to assist with the reporting of nuclear detonations and the mapping of radioactive fallout. Further research into the Cold War preparations for nuclear conflict, including arrangements for local government, civil defence and air defences would be beneficial. The preparations that private individuals undertook in case of nuclear conflict is also a topic of interest, and at least one privately built nuclear bunker was created in the region at Birnie House (MPK17058).