One of the many upstanding buildings which still survive at RAF Fearn

‘Women at War’ is a collaborative community engagement project developed by Archaeology Scotland. The project aims to support volunteers in recording the disused Fearn Airfield in Ross and Cromarty, Highlands. The project worked with female volunteers; focusing on the needs of local women who would like to learn additional key-transferable skills and take part in a heritage recording project.

One of the many upstanding buildings which still survive at RAF Fearn
One of the many upstanding buildings which still survive at RAF Fearn

Working with local charities, we are provided training for volunteers, which enabled them to survey, photograph and record abandoned buildings relating to the World War Two Fearn Airfield. The main emphasis of the project looked at the role of women who served at the airbase, during WW2, mainly employed as WRNS. While the course structure has been devised by Archaeology Scotland, the project was community led, with the participant’s individual thoughts and interests contributing towards topics of research covered by the project.

The airbase itself opened in 1941, as RAF Fearn, a satellite base to RAF Tain. Originally utilised by the Royal Air force for training, in 1942 the base was transferred to the Royal Navy and became known as HMS Owl. From 1943 the base was used as a torpedo training unit utilising the Tain range and surrounding waters for practice. At its peak 3000 men and women were stationed at the base, but many of their accounts have not been recorded.

Women at War has now been completed but we have uploaded our results onto the below web pages.

WRNS at HMS Owl

Haiku Poetry

Our digital record

Results of the Archaeology Survey

Women at War leaflet 

If you have memories of RAF Fearn or HMS Owl, or if you would like to get involved with the project, please get in touch with Cara, the Women at War project contact.

Women at War is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories, the Highland Leader Fund and Historic Scotland.