Lighthouse Beacons from Scotland

Rattray Head

Rattray Head Lighthouse © Anne Burgess via Wikimedia Commons

Rattray Head lighthouse lies at the northern end of Rattray Bay, 7 miles northeast of Peterhead on the East coast of Scotland. The sand dunes at the beach stretch for 17 miles from St Combs to Peterhead and can be up to 75 feet high. Photo of sand dunes © Anne Burgess via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1887 the captain of a ship wrote to the Northern Lighthouses Commissioners saying "It is a rare thing to pass this dangerous point without finding a ship of some sort stranded and it is one of the most prominent turning points of North East Scotland. Mariners will consider it a great boon by having a light placed here". But he was told there was no money available to build a lighthouse. But in 1889 Engineer, David Alan Stevenson, reported that the area "was notorious among mariners for its foul ground, rapid tides and high and dangerous seas. No part of the East Coast of Scotland was more dangerous than this. Also a light was more important in view of the fact that a harbour of refuge was being built at Peterhead at an estimated cost of £500,000". But it took further pressure before the authorities eventually sanctioned the cost of such a structure in 1891.

The lighthouse was designed by David Alan Stevenson. A new departure in lighthouse design was used with a rock tower in two parts, the lower containing a foghorn and engine-room, and the upper the lightkeepers' room and lantern. It was the first time that a first-class siren fog signal had been installed in a rock lighthouse. The fog siren was discontinued in 2001. The white, conical tower on conical foundation is 112 feet tall.and became operational in 1895.

In February 1982, the light was made fully automatic and the keepers withdrawn. The keeper's accommodations are now open for Bed & Breakfast as Rattray Head Eco-Hostel, claiming to be "most easterly rural B&B on mainland Scotland."

As can be seen from the graphics, it is possible to walk from the shore to the lighthouse if the tide is low enough.

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