The Cowie Line

a Second World War 'stop line' west of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Gordon J Barclay (Author)

defences, anti-tank obstacle, coastal defences
Second World War, modern


The Cowie stop line, running west from the town of Stonehaven, the county town of the historical county of Kincardineshire, some 19km south of Aberdeen, has been recognized for some time as a well-preserved example of a Second World War anti-tank obstacle, but has not hitherto been described in detail. Its purpose was to stop any German force landing in the north-east penetrating into Angus and further south. To work effectively the line was extended to the west, by defences at the Bridge of Dye (on the Strachan–Fettercairn road) and the Devil’s Elbow (on the Braemar–Blairgowrie road) and planned demolitions on the Inverness–Perth road and railway. It originally comprised a dozen pillboxes, over 5km of anti-tank barrier, eight small and one large groups of anti-tank cubes and other defensive features. This paper outlines the strategic background, how the Cowie Line fitted into it, how the Line was constructed, and how its intended function changed over time. The results of the first complete survey of the surviving remains are also presented.


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How to Cite
Barclay, G. J. (2006). The Cowie Line: a Second World War ’stop line’ west of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 135, 119–161.

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