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Monuments of warHackness Battery and Martello Tower were built in 1813–14, at the height of the Napoleonic War. French and American warships were wreaking havoc on British and Scandinavian merchant shipping going ‘north about’ through the Pentland Firth or round Orkney. Longhope Sound provided a safe anchorage. The battery at Hackness was built first, followed by two Martello towers – Hackness, just 200m from the battery, and Crockness on the north side of the Sound (the latter is in private ownership).
The batteryThe first battery comprised eight 24-pounder cannon firing over a sloping parapet. They were mounted in V-formation on timber traversing carriages so that they could cover the entire width of the sound. Behind them were the soldiers’ barracks and store, and behind them the powder magazine.
The Martello towersMartello towers take their name from Mortella point, on Corsica, where in 1794 two small cannon mounted by the French on a circular masonry tower beat off an attack by two British warships with a combined firepower of 106 guns. It so impressed the British that, when Napoleon threatened to invade in 1803, over 100 similar towers were built along the south coast of England. Hackness and Crockness towers were built a decade later. Aside from a tower guarding the port of Leith, Edinburgh, they were the only ones built in Scotland.