Skip to main page content (AccessKey S)
Three miles north of Anstruther, a short private road turns south off the B940. It leads through a screen of trees that gives the location its name - Troy Wood - and between barbed wire fences to an innocuous looking building clad in stone and red tiles typical of the East Neuk of Fife.
Welcome to Troywood, Scotland's Secret Bunker, a site that for over 40 years after the end of World War Two was one of the most sensitive and, as the name implies, secret, in Scotland. It says much for the way the world has changed since the end of the Cold War that today Troywood is one of East Fife's most significant (and certainly most unusual) visitor attractions.
Visiting the Secret Bunker is a fascinating, sobering, and ever so slightly chilling experience. Those old enough to have lived through some part of the cold war come face to face, perhaps for the first time, with the reality of the very different ending that episode in our history might have reached.
Yes, we all knew at the time that nuclear war was a possibility: but it would probably not have made us any happier to realise just how much effort and expense was being put into planning for the the reality of the worst possible outcome.
The Secret Bunker served a series of different purposes over its long operational life. The visitor today gets to see a mixture of superbly recreated interiors from different periods of its life. All within the structure as last rebuilt around 1970 to allow it to serve as a seat of government for a post-apocalypse Scotland.
And the Secret Bunker is certainly large enough to accommodate a great deal to keep the visitor enthralled. Imagine a large two storey office block coated in a layer of concrete three metres thick.
Dig a hole in the ground 40 metres deep, put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the hole as a "shock absorber" and place the office block on top of it. Then pile the earth over the whole area. Put in a 150m tunnel to give access to the bunker from what is, despite appearances, a specially strengthened entrance building, and finish off with an emergency exit tunnel at the other end.
The Secret Bunker started life as one of the chain of radar stations operated by the RAF along the coasts of the UK in the years immediately following WWII. Under the codename Rotor these were designed to spot approaching Russian bombers and direct fighters to intercept them. The standard plan for a Rotor site included the entrance "bungalow" you see today, though Troywood's was given a superficial coating to make it look like it belonged in Fife.
The early Cold War Rotor base was rather smaller than the bunker you see today: apart from anything else it was operated by personnel who lived on a domestic site some distance from Troywood itself. The RAF Operations Room that visitors see within the bunker today is a recreation of life in the bunker during that period of its life. Next door is a radar room containing radar equipment and displays brought here from RAF Buchan in Aberdeenshire, and which were used to control some of the final intercepts of Russian aircraft during the Cold War.
With the advance in radar technology during the 1950s, fewer Rotor bases were needed, and Troywood was mothballed. In 1958 it was converted for use as a Regional Civil Defence Corps HQ. Once again, the main command centre from this period of the bunker's life has been recreated: in this room members of the ROC would have plotted the course of a nuclear attack on Scotland.
In the years around 1970 the bunker was refurbished and rebuilt on a larger scale. Its role now was to be the main seat of government in Scotland in the event of a nuclear conflict. Most of what you see today dates back to this period of the bunker's life. Accommodation included dormitories for the 300 people it would take to man the bunker, a mess area now used as the bunker's cafeteria. There is even a chapel.
But perhaps the most chilling room in the complex is the Nuclear Command Control Centre, a large area in which all those central to running what was left of the country would have tried to do so. The bunker remained ready for use in this role until 1992, and was opened to the public in 1994.