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Gaelic name Fiodra
Norse name Fiðrey
Meaning of name Norse for "feather island"[1]
Fidra is located in East Lothian
Fidra shown within Scotland
OS grid reference NT5186
Physical geography
Island group Islands of the Forth
Area c. 10 ha
Highest elevation c. 20 m
Political geography
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country Scotland
Council area East Lothian
Population 0
References [2][3][4]

Fidra (archaically "Fidrey"[5] or " Fetheray"[6]) is an uninhabited island in the Firth of Forth, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) north-west of North Berwick, on the east coast of Scotland.


Like the other islands near North Berwick, Fidra is the result of volcanic activity around 335 million years ago. Fidra consists of three sections; a hill at one end with the lighthouse on it; a low-lying section in the middle, effectively an isthmus; and a rocky stack at the other end.[7]


View of Fidra from Yellowcraig

Its name is believed to be Old Norse in origin, referring to the large number of bird feathers found there. Like the nearby Bass Rock, it has a substantial seabird population, and is now an RSPB reserve. The village of Gullane lies to the south-west, and the nature reserve of Yellowcraig and village of Dirleton, to which parish Fidra belongs,[8] are to the south. Remotely operated cameras on the island send live pictures to the watching visitors at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.[9]

Upon the island are ruins of an old chapel, or lazaretto for the sick, which was dedicated in 1165 to St. Nicholas.[8] In the 12th century, the island formed part of the barony of Dirleton, which was granted to the Anglo-Norman John de Vaux by King David I. The de Vaux family built a stronghold, known as Tarbet Castle, on the island, but in 1220, William de Vaux gifted Fidra to the monks of Dryburgh Abbey, in the Borders. His successor built Dirleton Castle, on the mainland, as a replacement dwelling.[10]

Fidra Lighthouse


The lighthouse, which was built in 1885 and automated in 1970, can be accessed via a primitive jetty on the east of the island.[3] The light flashes 4 times every 30 seconds.[11]

Cultural references[edit]

Robert Louis Stevenson often visited the beaches at the area known today as Yellowcraig and it is said that he based his map of Treasure Island on the shape of Fidra. (This claim is also made about the island of Unst in Shetland.) He also mentioned Fidra in his novel Catriona.[7] Fidra Books is a publishing house, named after the island, and which uses Fidra's outline as part of its logo.[12] The progressive rock band Marillion also briefly mention Fidra in the song, Warm Wet Circles, which contains the line "She nervously undressed in the dancing beams of the Fidra Lighthouse",[13] the coast nearby apparently being a well-known courting spot.[13]


  1. ^ Ryder, N.L. "Displacement of bone waste by seagulls" (pdf) Circaea: The Bulletin of the Association for Environmental Archaeology. 6 No. 2 (1990) University of York. p. 85. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  2. ^ General Register Office for Scotland (28 Nov 2003) Occasional Paper No 10: Statistics for Inhabited Islands Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  3. ^ a b Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7. 
  4. ^ Ordnance Survey
  5. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1846). "Faifley - Fifeshire". A Topographical. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  6. ^ Skene, W. F. (November 1862) "Of the early Frisian Settlements in Scotland". Antiquaries of Scotland. 4 Part 1.
  7. ^ a b "Fidra". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  8. ^ a b Martine, John (1890) Fourteen Parishes of the County of Haddington, Edinburgh, p.50-51
  9. ^ Fidra Web Cam Scottish Seabird Centre. Retrieved on 18 June 2008.
  10. ^ Tabraham, Chris (2007) Dirleton Castle 2nd edition. Historic Scotland. ISBN 978-1-904966-41-8 pp.21-22
  11. ^ Reeds Small Craft Almanac, London, Adlard Coles Nautical, 2007
  12. ^ "Fidra Books". Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  13. ^ a b Schipper, Jeroen (ed.) (1992–1997). "What is the Fidra Lighthouse?". Marillion Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°04′23″N 2°47′0″W / 56.07306°N 2.78333°W / 56.07306; -2.78333