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Columbus: Lother Rock, Pentland Firth

Brig (19th Century)

Site Name Columbus: Lother Rock, Pentland Firth

Classification Brig (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Loather Rock; Louther Rock

Canmore ID 221777

Site Number ND47NE 8018

NGR ND 436 830

NGR Description ND c. 436 830

Datum Datum not recorded


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Maritime - Orkney
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Maritime
  • Former County Not Applicable

Archaeology Notes

ND47NE 8018 c. 436 830

N58 43.9 W2 58.5

NLO: Pentland Firth [name centred ND 35 81]

Pentland Skerries [name centred ND 470 775]

Lother Rock [name: ND 436 830].

Not to be confused with ND37NW 8012.

23 January 1862, COLUMBUS, brig, 335 tons, 14 crew, general cargo and 2 passengers, stranded, total loss, 15 lives lost, wind SE10, Loather Rock, Pentland Frith [Firth].

Source: PP Abstracts Returns of Wrecks and Casualties on Coasts of the UK 1862 (1863 [3216] LXIII.165).

St. Margaret's Hope, Orkney, 24th Jan. The COLUMBUS (brig), Davidson, of and from Leith, for the West Indies, with a general cargo, got on the Lother Rock, Pentland Firth, yesterday, and has become a total wreck: only one man saved.

Source: LL, No. 14,920, London, Thursday, January 30 1862.

Longhope, 25th Jan. A good deal of wreck has driven on shore here, consisting of pieces of the planking, beams, &c., of a ship, one of the beams marked '334', some staves, sawn planks, two casks of porter marked 'Jefferys and Co., Edinburgh': several pieces of casks and barrels, which had apparently been filled with bottle ale: also a name-board, with "COLUMBUS" on it in white letters.

Source: LL, No. 14,924, London, Tuesday, February 4 1862

Wick, 20th Mar. A quadrant, 134 bibles, and a press, have been saved from the wreck of the COLUMBUS, from Leith to the West Indies, which was lost in [Record received incomplete].

NMRS, MS/829/68 (no. 2152).

(Classified as wooden brig, with cargo of coal and general goods: date of loss cited as 23 January 1862). Columbus: this vessel was wrecked on Lother Rock. Capt. Davidson.

Registration: Leith. Built 1807. 334grt. Length: 31m. Beam: 8m.

(Location of loss cited as N58 40.8 W2 54.0).

I G Whittaker 1998.

The inclusion of this wreck by Larn and Larn within their section DC ('North-east Scotland') is anomalous. The Pentland Skerries fall within the administrative area of Orkney, and this wreck is assigned accordingly to the quasi-administrative area of Maritime - Orkney.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 23 September 2002.

R and B Larn 1998.


Reference (2011)

Whittaker ID : 11013


Latitude : 584048

Longitude : 25400

Date Built : 1807

Registration : LEITH

Type : BRIG (WOOD)

Tonnage : 334

Tonnage Code : G

Length : 31

Beam : 8

Loss Day : 23

Loss Month : 1

Loss Year : 1862

Comment : Wrecked on Lother Rock. Capt. Davidson


Note (11 February 2019)

Information supplied to HES by a member of the public in February 2019 suggests that the position assigned to this casualty should be the Lother Rock (ND 436 830), which lies about 550m WSW of the SW coast of South Ronaldsay, rather than the Louther Skerry (ND 478 771), which lies about 7km to the SE and forms one of the Pentland Skerries. The Lother Rock is depicted on the 2nd edition of the OS 6-inch map (Orkney 1903, sheet cxxvi).

This new assignation is confirmed by a contemporary description of the shipwreck in an article entitled ‘Loss of a Leith Vessel and 15 lives in the Pentland Firth’, published in the Orkney Herald newspaper (28 January 1862, p.3), and in a poem, ‘The Wreck of the Brig Columbus’, published in The Orcadian newspaper (4 November 1976).

Information from HES Survey and Recording (GFG) 11 February 2019.


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