Launched in 1918, the battle cruiser H.M.S. Hood was Britain’s biggest warship, earning it the nickname ‘The Mighty Hood’. The vessel undertook missions and exercises around the world during the inter-war years before being mobilised for operations at the outbreak of World War II.
In 1934, the Hood was anchored in Loch Eriboll, Sutherland. During their stay, members of the crew came ashore and set-out the ship’s name in stones on the hillside above the village of Laid. The word ‘Hood’ appears twice on the hill, the larger monument being at a higher elevation, with a smaller one below. The H.M.S. Hood is not the only ship whose visit to the Loch has been recorded in this way; there are several other ships’ names on the same hillside, some historic and others more recent.
The H.M.S. Hood was sunk by the German warship Bismarck on 24th May 1941 during the ‘Battle of the Denmark Strait’. Of the 1,418 members of crew on board at the time, only three survived the encounter.
The Hood Stones remained undisturbed for many years, becoming gradually overgrown, until 1993, when pupils from nearby Durness Primary School cleared the Stones of foliage and whitewashed them. There has been regular maintenance since, by local residents and members of the Royal Navy. When the crew of H.M.S. Sutherland visited in 2002, they cleared and repainted the Hood Stones before setting-out the name ‘Sutherland’ on the hillside nearby. A repeat visit was made in 2013, when both sets of stones were cleared and repainted.
The Hood Stones are not currently covered under any formal heritage designation.
The Stones at Loch Eriboll are one of several sites associated with the Hood. The H.M.S. Hood Association website highlights many of these (see here). The Association was established in 1975 with the aim of perpetuating the memory of the Hood and her crew.