Tarbat Ness Lighthouse

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Tarbat Ness Lighthouse
Tarbet ness.jpg
Location Tarbat Ness
Nr Portmahomack, Highland, Scotland
Coordinates 57°51.8’N 03°46.6’W
Year first lit 1830
Automated 1985
Construction Brick
Tower shape Conical tower
Markings / pattern White with 2 red bands
Height 41 m
Focal height 53 m
Range 44 Km (white),
37 Km (red)
Characteristic Fl. (4) white every 30 secs

The Tarbat Ness Lighthouse is located at the North West tip of the Tarbat Ness peninsula near the fishing village of Portmahomack on the east coast of Scotland. It was built in 1830 by Robert Stevenson and has an elevation of 53 metres (174 ft) and 203 steps to the top of the tower.

History of Tarbat Ness[edit]

At the Battle of Tarbat Ness in the 11th century, Thorfinn the Mighty defeated "Karl Hundason",[1] possibly a Viking name for Macbeth.

Further down the peninsula at Portmahomack, in the 1480s the Clan Ross slaughtered a raiding party from the Clan Mackay by locking them in the Tarbat Old Church and setting fire to it. This event is known as the Battle of Tarbat.

Close up view of the Lighthouse


A storm in the Moray Firth in November 1826 saw the loss of 16 vessels and brought many applications for lighthouses to be constructed at Tarbat Ness and at Covesea Skerries.

Tarbat Ness Lighthouse was engineered by Robert Stevenson for the Northern Lighthouse Board and the light was first exhibited on 26 January 1830. James Smith of Inverness was the contractor responsible for the building of the lighthouse which cost £9,361. The lighthouse tower is the third tallest in Scotland behind North Ronaldsay and Skerryvore and is notable for having two distinguishing broad red bands.

Bela Bathurst 1999 'The lighthouse Stevensons' refers to a rescue made by the principal keeper William Davidson of 4 of the 5 crew members of a Norwegian schooner. No date given for this. She mentions this in the context that Robert Stevenson required keepers to stay with the light and not risk rescuing shipwrecked people. It seems that even with the light ships could still be driven ashore. She accessed the full entries of logs and diaries available at the Northern Lights Board.

Earthquake shocks were sometimes reported and Tarbat Ness once shook so that the shades and lamp glasses rattled.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Roberts, John Lenox (1997), Lost Kingdoms: Celtic Scotland and the Middle Ages, Edinburgh University Press, p. 22, ISBN 978-0-7486-0910-9 

External links[edit]