Sutors Of Cromarty
The Sutors of Cromarty are two opposing headlands which mark the entrance to the Cromarty Firth. The North Sutor rises to 147 metres (486 ft), while the South Sutor reaches 140 metres (463 ft).
The Sutors stand guard over the firth, and many stories have been told about them. Sutor is the Scots word for shoemaker, and one story tells of two giant shoemakers, the sutors, who used the two cliffs as their workbenches, and tossed their tools to and fro between one another.
Both North Sutor and South Sutor carry the remains of substantial military gun emplacements, coastal batteries built in the early 20th century to protect and defend the naval anchorage in the firth, which saw service during both World War I and, to a lesser degree, World War II, but was abandoned by the 1950s. Built before the outbreak of World War I, this protection included elaborate defences to protect the firth from U-Boats, including not only the batteries, but a Boom Defence and Minefield, together with Lookout and Observation Posts, and Searchlight Batteries.
Records show that both training and operation of the Sutor batteries were carried out by Norwegian personnel.
North South East West?
There appears to potential for confusion with regard to the naming of the Sutors, depending on exactly what is being referred to, and even today, when collecting information for this page, references in documentation, and names on maps are at odds. It seems that all the names are correct, provided the reader takes into consideration the context within which they are used. It may come as no surprise to learn the everything was fine until the military, specifically the Admiralty, added their input.
From the map, it is clear that there exists between the Sutors of Cromarty a firth, and the Firth of Cromarty has one Sutor to the north, North Sutor, and one to the south, South Sutor. Relatively intuitive and straightforward. Equally simple appears to the be the establishment of a large coastal defence on the North Sutor, together with a corresponding installation on the South Sutor, giving is the North Sutor Battery, and the South Sutor Battery.
Well... perhaps not quite that simple, at least not after 1913.
It seems that the headlands at the mouth of the firth were originally known as the East and West Sutors – but the Admiralty appears to have been unable to adapt to the local sense of direction, and changed this to the North and South Sutors in 1913, when the firth became a naval base.
The explanation would certainly seem to be in accord with a number of the photographic records of the batteries, which were found to be very confusing. The photographs would typically show a section of cliff which featured a number of buildings related to a coastal battery, but would then refer to some parts belong to the North Sutor Battery, and others as being in the South Sutor Battery.
This would clearly not be correct of referring to the two sutors separated by the firth, but could indeed be correct if the North Sutor and South Sutor being referred to were in fact the East Sutor and West Sutor battery areas that can be found on the headland of the South Sutor.
This is only our interpretation of the available information, in a way that makes to the data we have, and we would be more than happy to have this confirmed or corrected if there is an alternate explanation.
North Sutor radar station
The North Sutor Battery has been recorded as having a centimetric coast artillery fire control radar set situated to the north east. The radar would have been used to give accurate ranges and bearings to targets, and the splash of shells as they entered the water, enabling corrections to be made to their trajectory.
South Sutor radar station
The South Sutor Battery has been recorded as having a centimetric coast artillery fire control radar set situated to the north east. The radar would have been used to give accurate ranges and bearings to targets, and the splash of shells as they entered the water, enabling corrections to be made to their trajectory.
The Cromarty Firth was protected by an anti-submarine boom, located in the area between Cromarty and Nigg. Precise locations of the end-points of the boom do not appear to be recorded.
The Cromarty Firth was protected by a minefield, and the related XDO observation post and mining station have been identified from records.
Because there are so many features on the Sutors, the information has been tabulated.
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