Jun 052023

Mortonhall, Edinburgh, EH16 6UT

Remains of the Mortonhall army camp Nissan Huts.

Recent archaeological excavations undertaken on behalf of Scottish Water revealed that Mortonhall caravan park acted as an army camp during the war. Initially, in July 1940, the camp was occupied by the 16th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI), converting from tented to permanent accommodation in mid-1942. Following the departure of the DLI on Christmas Day 1942, it is believed that the Royal Signal Corps occupied the camp until the immediate postwar period. Archaeological finds included an ink bottle, a milk bottle, a sauce bottle, and stainless-steel knife blade. Researchers also believe that the site served as a postwar camp for displaced people from Eastern Europe, including Ukrainians and Poles. A tip to see this location: look south from Edinburgh Castle esplanade, the top of Calton Hill or Blackford Hill. Alternatively travel to Morton Hall to see the site in person. The camp can be accessed via a silver gate into the field off Mounthooly Loan, opposite King Malcolm Close.

Remains of the Mortonhall army camp – accessible via Mounthooly Loan.
Remains visible along the tree-line of the field.

Sources: The Excavation of a World War II Army Camp at Mortonhall, Edinburgh – Magnus Kirby, Alasdair Ross and Sue Anderson, Journal of Conflict Archaeology, Vol. 8, No. 2 (May 2013), pp. 106-135; ‘How Our Armies are Housed’, The Scotsman 9 October 1942, p. 7

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  One Response to “Morton Hall”

  1. In the first source listed above it states; “Reports that Mortonhall was a POW camp were probably unfounded….”. However,

    Canmore – “The concrete bases of the huts for this camp are situated along a wall at the edge of a field to the E of the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital at Mortonhall. Many of the hut bases are broken.
    The huts were originally built for the Durham Light Infantry c.1940, and were subsequently re-used as a prisoner-of-war camp. In the immediate post-war period the camp became a displaced persons centre.
    J A Guy 1997; NMRS MS 810/5, 81, 83. https://canmore.org.uk/site/121757/edinburgh-mortonhall-army-camp

    c.1945 ? – Mortonhall was attached to Dalmahoy Camp 123.

    1946 – 1948 – Diary of Luftwaffe pow Gerhard Paul records he was held in the US, then Belgium, then on to the UK where he was held in August 1946 at Dalmahoy Camp 123; then Sighthill Hostel and finally at Mortonhall where he stayed until 1948. [Entry from Craig A Benner –
    http://www.edinphoto.org.uk/1_edin/1_edinburgh_history_-_recollections_sighthill.htm ]

    13 February 1948 – listed as a hostel attached to Gosford Camp 16 with 34 pows. It was due to be closed. Recorded in Camp Report – National Archives – FO 939/100

    April 1948 – Still open with just 9 pows – attached to Deer Park Camp 16.

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