A first-time metal detectorist sparked panic in Scotland this morning after finding an ‘unexploded device’, thought to be a World War I bomb, late on Tuesday.
Ryan Junor, 39, only bought his new metal detector three days before making the discovery with his teenage son and friends, and carried the device for several hundred metres before detectorists on social media identified it could be an explosive.
Emergency services are currently in attendance at Castle Terrace, Invergordon, Ross and Cromarty, after the unexploded ordnance was discovered.
The Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) have also been called to the scene.
Mr Junor agreed to go to an old bomb shelter in the area to try his detector and said he originally planned to search for old coins with son Shay, 15.
Ryan Junor, 39, unearthed the device on his first trip metal detecting with his son Shay, 15
Mr Junor took photographs of the device he unearthed (pictured) and posted them on Facebook
He described the device’s maiden outing: ‘I just started walking across the field and 10 minutes in, the noise started going on the detector.
‘We stopped and dug around half a metre and found this large object, probably a bit bigger than a bottle of vodka. It was shaped like that as well.
‘We thought it was just a bottle, or a old (spent) shell, but we just carried on detecting further down the hill.
‘I took photos of it and put it on a metal detecting Facebook page and people came back on the page saying they think it is a Stokes mortar bomb from the First World War.’
He added: ‘We kind of panicked then because we had it. I had carried it out a couple hundred yards into the field. We put it down straight away and called police and we had to wait for police and explained it to them.
‘They told us the bomb squad was coming and to head home, which we all did, and I got up in the morning and all the local schools had been closed, and whole area closed off.
‘We were pretty shocked when we realised that it had the potential to be a bomb, you know especially when we were digging around it and I was carrying it.
‘I did not feel it was a bomb, or we would have gone nowhere near it. We would have just left it and called the authorities.
‘It wasn’t till I was sitting in bed last night thinking, this is pretty scary. Everything is still closed now, all cornered off. My kids are off school today as local schools are closed.’
Three schools in the Highlands were shut down for the day and bomb disposal officers called in to assess the device.
Nearby Invergordon Academy has been locked down and the public have been urged to stay away from the area. It expects to reopen tomorrow.
Local schools Park Primary and South Lodge Primary are also closed on Wednesday, along with their early years centres.
Three schools in the Highlands have been closed all day due to the device, described as slightly larger than a ‘vodka bottle’
Several people had to be evacuated from their homes following the discovery
Emergency services are currently in attendance at Castle Terrace, Invergordon
Roads have been closed and Invergordon Academy has been put on lockdown
Park Primary School confirmed on their social media that the school will be closed for at least the entire day.
Local SNP Highlands Councillor Tamala Collier said: ‘Castle Avenue, Davidson Drive and Gordon Terrace are currently closed due to a police incident.
‘All Invergordon schools and nurseries are closed. I have been in contact with the police and am awaiting updates.
‘Everybody is being told to stay away from the area. I will provide updates as they come. Let’s all just hope everybody is safe.’
The Stokes mortar was a British trench mortar designed by Sir Wilfred Stokes that was issued to the British and US armies, as well as the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps, during the latter half of WW1. The 3-inch trench mortar is a smooth-bore, muzzle-loading weapon for high angles of fire.
It remained in service into WW2, when it was superseded by the Ordnance ML 3 inch mortar.
Several people had to be evacuated from their homes following the discovery.
A Royal Navy spokeswoman said: ‘We can confirm that Charlie Squadron from the Faslane-based Diving Threat and Exploitation Group (DXTG) are attending the incident in Invergordon.
‘They have dispatched a Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Officer to the scene and are liaising with Police Scotland to deal with an item of historic ordnance which was found by a metal detectorist.’
One of those evacuated today was Josephine Wilson, 62.
She said: ‘The police said I had to leave the house as soon as possible. I had my grandson, James, 16, with me at the time and he was due to do his premlins today.
‘They have done the right thing but we don’t know the timeline when we will be allowed back.’
A Police Scotland spokesperson said : ‘Emergency services are in attendance at Castle Terrace, Invergordon after an unexploded ordnance was found.
‘A cordon has been put in place and EOD have been contacted.
Police have told local residents to avoid the area while officers carry out all necessary procedures
‘Police in Invergordon are currently dealing with an incident at Castle Avenue and as a result a portion of the road between the junctions of Gordon Terrace and Academy Road is shut.
‘Davidson Drive is also shut with no vehicular or pedestrian traffic permitted.
‘Invergordon Academy will be closed until this incident reaches a conclusion.
‘Members of the public are requested to stay away from the area in the meantime.’
A spokesperson for Invergordon Academy said: ‘Invergordon Academy will be closed today (01.02.23) due to an ongoing Police incident.
‘We expect to be back open tomorrow, 02.02.23.’
Local sports and social clubs have also confirmed they are closed for the day.
It is understood the device may be an old wartime ordnance found in playing fields, possibly by a metal detectorist.
The area’s beaches were used to prepare soldiers and sailors for the Allied landings in Normandy in June 1944.
Munitions are regularly found in the surrounding area – as well as across the rest of the UK.
Military personnel were based at nearby Fort George at the time.