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Scotland’s historic lighthouses to be reviewed as part of Year of Coasts and Waters 2020

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Scotland’s lighthouses will be reviewed for listing next year as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced it will undertake the review, looking at listed and unlisted lighthouses owned by the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB).

As part of the year-long project, in partnership with NLB, HES say they will update existing listed building records for lighthouses and explore unlisted lighthouses to determine if they meet the criteria to become listed.

Buildings listed as having ‘special architectural or historic interest’ form part of the nation’s rich heritage and help to tell the story of Scotland’s past.

Listing celebrates these buildings and ensures their special interest is considered in the planning process.

HES, Scotland’s lead public body for the historic environment, is responsible for listing buildings, while NLB is responsible for the provision of Marine Aids to Navigation in the waters surrounding Scotland and the Isle of Man. It currently operates and maintains over 200 lighthouses.

Philip Robertson, Deputy Head of Designations at HES, said they were “really excited” about looking at some of the lighthouses for the first time.

“There are a range of lighthouses which have never been assessed for listing, including some dating from the 1970s and 1980s, so we’re really excited to look at these structures for the first time and explore their potential.”

He added: “By reviewing and updating the records of these fascinating buildings, we will be able to offer more information about what makes them special to help their future care and maintenance.”

Since the building of Scotland’s first lighthouse in the 17th century, lighthouses have played a crucial role in ensuring safe passage for ships.

One of the most famous is the Bell Rock Lighthouse which was built in 1808-11 by Robert Stevenson (Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather) and its construction was an epic feat. It is listed at category A.

Mike Bullock, Chief Executive of the Northern Lighthouse Board, said: “We place a great deal of importance on the preservation and sharing of our remarkable history and we are delighted to be working on this project with HES during Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.

“Many of our lighthouses are now over 200 years old but they continue to serve the same purpose as when they were built – to guide all mariners safely through Scottish and Isle of Man waters.”


See the full NLB collection held within the HES archives, here.