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Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders

Date 2007

Event ID 589417

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


In 1897 the Northern Lighthouse Board decided to erect two lighthouses on the Haddingtonshire coast. Barns Ness (NT 7230 7721) with its 121 ft high tower built of stone from Craigree and Barnton quarries, was erected from 1899 to 1901 and Bass Rock from 1900 to 1902. Bass Rock Lighthouse is said to be located on a former gun platform part way up the rock, a particularly awkward site. Its creation, to quote a later Northern Lighthouse Board engineer J. D. Gardner, required ‘the exercise of sound judgment and engineering skill’. The engineer for both lighthouses was David A. Stevenson. Bass Rock Lighthouse has a circular stone tower 65 ft high and cost about £8000. Its light is about 150 ft above sea level and has a nominal range of 21 miles. It adjoins the site of a former fortress and prison where, between 1672 and 1688, some 40 Covenanter prisoners are said to have perished. Barns Ness was automated in 1986 and is now a minor light with a nominal range of ten mile. The first lighthouse completed by Stevenson as Engineer to the Board was on nearby Fidra Island in 1885, the station on which, with its Alan Stevenson-type diagonal astragals lantern, can be best seen from the mainland at Yellowcraigs beach, where there is an interpretive board at the car park.

R Paxton and J Shipway 2007

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders' with kind permission of Thomas Telford Publishers.

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