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Lismore, Lighthouse

Lighthouse (19th Century)

Site Name Lismore, Lighthouse

Classification Lighthouse (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Sound Of Mull; Loch Linnhe; Firth Of Lorn; Eilean Musdile; Lismore Light

Canmore ID 22660

Site Number NM73NE 5

NGR NM 77812 35105

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Lismore And Appin (Argyll And Bute)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM73NE 5.00 77812 35105

Lighthouse (flashing white) [NAT]

OS (GIS) AIB, April 2008.

NM73NE 5.01 NM 77821 35121 North Keeper's House

NM73NE 5.02 NM 77832 35111 South Keeper's House

NM73NE 5.03 NM 77882 35229 Northern Slipway

NM73NE 5.04 NM 77879 35092 Southern Slipway

For standing stone (apparently destroyed or removed during lighthouse construction), see NM73NE 4.

ARCHITECT: Robert Stevenson 1833

Restoration of south keeper's cottage by Shauna Cameron 1999-2000.


Scottish Records Office

The Commissioners announce their intention to build 3 new lighthouses, Dunnet Head, Barra Head and S. Side of Lismore. Letter to C. Cunningham says the commissioners have resolved to delay decision on Chickenhead


1829 GD46/17/77

(Undated) information in NMRS.

(Location cited as NM 778 351). Lighthouse, Eilean Musdile, erected 1833, engineer Robert Stevenson. A tapering circular tower, with cast-iron square-paned lantern and corbelled walk-way with cast-iron lattice railing. The tower rises from a semicircular base.

The single-storey range of keepers' houses, now disused, is in a simplified form of the flat-roofed 'Egyptian' style.

The gorge that bisects the small island is spanned by a nicely finished rubble segmental arch.

J R Hume 1977.

This tower lighthouse is situated at the SW end of Eilean Musdile, a projection to the SW of the island of Lismore, from where it guards and defines the ESE entrance into the Sound of Mull. It was established in 1833, being built by Robert Stevenson with James Smith of Inverness as the contractor. It was left (after 1910) as one of the two remaining purely catoptric lights in NLB service, being automated (as a major automatic light) in 1965.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 29 April 2008.

R W Munro 1979.


Construction (1833)

Light established in 1833.

K Allardyce 1998

Modification (1965)

Automated in 1965.

K Allardyce 1998

Field Visit (July 1971)

357. Lighthouse, Eilean Musdile, Lismore.

This lighthouse (Pls. 107-9) was erected in 1833 at a cost of £11,230 by the Inverness contractor, James Smith, under the supervision of Robert Stevenson, engineer at the Commissioners of Northern Lights (en.1). It comprises a lighthouse-tower and a pair of dwelling-houses symmetrically disposed about a small oblong courtyard. The tower has a diameter of 5'8 m at base over walls 1'4 min thickness, and rises to a height of 19.6 m at the corbelled parapet-walk, the lantern (Pl. 110A) being 31'4 m above the high-water level of spring tides (en.2). The masonry is of coursed lime-washed rubble, with painted dressings of freestone; stone for the construction of the lighthouse is said to have been quarried at Loch Aline (en.3). The parapet-walk (Pl. 110B) has a lozenge-patterned hand-rail of cast iron, within which there rises the cast iron superstructure of the light-room, pierced by two rows of square glass panes. The glazing-bars incorporate cast-iron hand-grips, fashioned in the form of dolphins, while the base and cornice of the superstructure are decorated with panels of the same material which display various nautical and heraldic insignia (Pl. 110C, D). All these details seem to belong to the original period of construction, but the reflector-mechanism has been renewed.

The keeper's houses (Pl. 110E) are plain single-storeyed buildings with flat roofs surmounted by prominent chimney-stacks; the central bays are advanced. The coursed sandstone-rubble masonry is exposed externally, but lime-washed on the courtyard side. The courtyard entrance (Pl. 110G), which is centrally placed, comprises a lintelled doorway set within a flat-arched recess whose blocking-course echoes that of the flanking houses. In front of the entrance there is a walled garden traversed by a sinuous path leading to an outer gateway, beyond which there are two slipways, one on each side of the island (en.4).

It was originally proposed to improve communication by the construction of a roadway and bridges linking Eilean Musdile with the island of Lismore, but the scheme was abandoned following the completion of a segmental-arched bridge (Pl. IIOF) spanning the gorge that bisects Eilean Musdile itself.

RCAHMS 1975, visited July 1971

En.1: 'Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the condition and management of Lights, Buoys and Beacons...', Parliamentary Papers, 1861, xxv, vol. ii, 177.

En.2: Ibid.

En.3: Gaskell, P, Morvern Transformed (1968), 171.

En.4: As first planned the keepers' houses were semi-detached and there was no direct access from the garden to the courtyard (Contract-drawings, dated 1829, in the possession of the Northern Lighthouse Board).


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