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Publication Account

Date 1986

Event ID 1017195

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


One of the fIrst tasks of the Commissioners appointed under the act of 1786 ... for erecting Certain Lighthouses in the Northern Part of Great Britain was to seek a site on the most northerly part of Aberdeenshire, the north-east corner of the mainland. The tower-house built in the 16th century by Sir Alexander Fraser, eighth laird of Philorth, proved to be in an ideal spot and to provide a ready made elevated platform, four storeys high. By converting the cap-house of the turnpike stair the engineer Thomas Smith achieved a simple lantern chamber which was first lit on 1 December 1787, thereby becoming the first lighthouse in northern Scotland.

Originally the light was fixed, coming from banks of whale-oil lamps each with its own mosaic of mirror glass behind; in clear weather that light could be seen from 12 or 14 miles away. The lantern was rebuilt and upgraded in the 1820s and again in 1851. It now comprises a short circular tower with a domed lantern set with triangular panes of glass. The first permanent radio beacon was established here in 1929.

The usual flat-roofed, white-washed keepers' houses and stores form a small but windy courtyard at the base of the tower.

Above the rocks 100m to the east is another 16th century tower, the Wine Tower. Although now truncated, it contains one chamber with important heraldic bosses which are paralleled at Crathes (no. 22).

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Grampian’, (1986).

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