Bomb disposal experts last night urged people to steer clear of suspicious devices after it was reported that a group of children were caught playing with a live war-time explosive on a Highland beach.
A specialist Royal Navy unit safely detonated the mortar on Rosemarkie Beach on the Black Isle late in the afternoon, 24 hours after the discovery was made.
A wide area of the beach, which is popular with families and dog walkers, was cordoned off for the duration as a safety precaution and coastguard teams from around the area maintained an overnight vigil.
It was the latest in a series of such discoveries on the Highland coastline. Two similar explosive relics surfaced in quick succession at Nairn in recent months.
Scotland’s coast was exposed to many WWII bombing raids and numerous north beaches were training grounds for the Allies’ preparation for D-Day.
The Northern Diving Group, a wing of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit based at the Clyde naval base, safely dealt with the mortar in a controlled explosion in an area of beach known as Caird’s Cave.
The team is one of two Fleet Diving Squadron area diving groups who provide diving, explosive ordnance disposal and underwater engineering.
Speaking shortly afterwards, Lieutenant Commander Tony Hampshire said: “It was a small, two-inch mortar in quite bad nick. It looked very typical of WWII-era type munition.
“Apparently a family came across a group of kids playing with it on the beach and they, quite rightly, told them to put it down and informed the police. That information was passed on to the coastguard.
“It was discovered late on Wednesday. We weren’t able to be here until today. The coastguard did a good job of keeping a cordon around it. It had clearly been fired but had not gone off, so it still contained explosives, therefore we destroyed it in place on the beach.
“Every case is different, but if it had been an unlucky day there is potential for those things to still go bang. Ultimately they always still pose a hazard. With anything like this, always leave it where it is, report it to the coastguard or the police and we’ll deal with it.”