Historic Scotland Data Website
Results New Search


This building is in the Orkney Islands Council and the Cross And Burness Parish. It is a category A building and was listed on 08/12/1971.

Group Items: N/A, Group Cat: N/A, Map Ref: HY 7901 5539.


Thomas Smith and Ezekiel Walker, 1798. Tall, circular-plan 2-stage tower with bracketed cornice below flagstone ball finial. Harl-pointed rubble. Window (blocked) at 1st stage to E; window at 2nd stage above. Remains of rubble, single storey, rectangular-plan keepers' houses abutting base of tower to W. Abutting gable with doorway offset to right, affording entry to tower. Internal timber stair now gone.


Scheduled Ancient Monument, No 6596. One of the first four lighthouse to be built in Scotland. Thomas Smith was commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Board together with the English lighthouse designer, Ezekiel Walker, to build a lighthouse to illuminate the dangerous waters at the northernmost tip of Orkney. The masons, John White and James Sinclair, constructed the 70ft tower from undressed local stone. The cost of the light was estimated at ?199 12s 6d and was first lit on 10th October, 1789. The lighting system was advanced, being the catrophic, or reflecting system, consisting of a number of oil-burning lamps surrounded by copper reflectors covered in facets of mirror glass to magnify the light. This fixed light survived until 1809 when the commissioners realised that the choice of position was somewhat unfortunate. The light proved to be too low to be seen by ships coming from the west and the south and was often mistaken for a ship's light. As a consequence, it was decided to transfer the lighthouse to a higher elevation at Start Point on the island of Sanday. The original cast-iron lantern with its copper-sheathed cupola was replaced by the huge ashlar ball finial which had previously topped the Sanday beacon.


Appears on 1st edition OS map (1882); NMRS Photographic Records, O/969/4, (1966); B Wilson, THE LIGHTHOUSES OF ORKNEY, (booklet accompanying the Summer Exhibition at Stromness Museum), (1975), pp 3-4; J Hume, THE INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY OF SCOTLAND, VOL II, (1977) p 249; G Moberg, STONE BUILT ORKNEY, PHOTOGRAPHS (1979), no 2; 3RD S A (1983), p 90; L Burgher, ORKNEY, AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1991), pp 99-100; J Gifford, HIGHLAND AND ISLANDS (1992), p 347; A Ritchie, ORKNEY (1996) p 52; North Ronaldsay Community Council, THE ISLAND OF NORTH RONALDSAY, (pamphlet).

© Crown copyright, Historic Scotland. All rights reserved. Mapping information derived from Ordnance Survey digital mapping products under Licence No. 100017509 2012 . Data extracted from Scottish Ministers' Statutory List on . Listing applies equally to the whole building or structure at the address set out in bold at the top of the list entry. This includes both the exterior and the interior, whether or not they are mentioned in the 'Information Supplementary to the Statutory List'. Listed building consent is required for all internal and external works affecting the character of the building. The local planning authority is responsible for determining where listed building consent will be required and can also advise on issues of extent or "curtilage" of the listing, which may cover items remote from the main subject of the listing such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. or interior fixtures. All category C(S) listings were revised to category C on 3rd September 2012. This was a non-statutory change. All enquiries relating to proposed works to a listed building or its setting should be addressed to the local planning authority in the first instance. All other enquiries should be addressed to: Listing & Designed Landscapes Team, Historic Scotland, Room G.51, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, EDINBURGH, EH9 1SH. Tel: +44 (0)131 668 8701 / 8705. Fax: +44 (0)131 668 8765. e-mail: hs.listing@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. Web: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/historicandlistedbuildings.

Results New Search

Buildings are assigned to one of three categories according to their relative importance. All listed buildings receive equal legal protection, and protection applies equally to the interior and exterior of all listed buildings regardless of category.

ACategory A

Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type. (Approximately 8% of the total).

BCategory B

Buildings of regional or more than local importance, or major examples of some particular period, style or building type which may have been altered. (Approximately 51% of the total).

C(S)Category C(S)

Buildings of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style, or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple traditional buildings which group well with others in categories A and B. (Approximately 41% of the total).