Holborn Head

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(Redirected from Holburn Head Lighthouse)

Holborn Head is a headland on the north-facing Atlantic coast of Caithness, in the Highland area of Scotland. The point of Holborn Head is at 58°37′23″N 03°32′06″W / 58.62306°N 3.53500°W / 58.62306; -3.53500 (grid reference ND10857155). It has a lighthouse at its south end and the remains of an old fort at its tip.[1]

Hill fort[edit]

The name Holborn appears Norse in origin, meaning hillfort, and the headland may be the Tarvedunum promotorium noted by Ptolemy.[2] At the tip is a bank, all that remains of a promontory fort,[3] which has been listed as a protected monument since 1933.[4] One source says no radiocarbon dating, or excavation for stratified remains has been done at the fort, so its age is unknown.[5] Another says it is Early Bronze Age to Pictish, possibly 2400 BC to 900 AD,[6] and another says Count Moddan, one of the Earls of Orkney,[2] in the early 11th century, had his army on promontario Thorsnesia,[7] which its source takes to be Holburn Head.[8] However, Thurso promontory could have equally described the later Scrabster Castle.


A walk around the headland can be accessed through a gate next to the Principal Keeper's House. There are stiles and bridges, which allow access to the unfenced off promontory of Holborn Head itself.[9] There are clear views over to Dunnet Head and to the Orkney Islands.[10]

Holburn Head Lighthouse

Holburn Head Lighthouse, spelt 'Holburn', unlike the headland which is Holborn Head, is about one kilometre (half a mile) south of the point, near Scrabster Harbour on the western shore of Thurso Bay, at 58°36′54″N 03°32′24″W / 58.61500°N 3.54000°W / 58.61500; -3.54000. Designed and built by David and Thomas Stevenson, it was completed in 1862. The tower for the light is integral with the keepers' house which is unusual since most Scottish lighthouses are separate from the house. After entering the upper floor front doorway there is a vestibule with 2 entrances, one to the Lightkeepers House and the other to the Lighthouse Tower. There were 2 Lightkeepers houses and the Tower within the building. Separate to this was the Principal Keeper's House.

The light was discontinued in 2003.


  1. ^ "Geograph Map ND10857155". www.geograph.org.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b The Scottish Journal of Topography, Antiquities, Traditions, Etc. T. G. Stevenson. 1848.
  3. ^ "OS1/7/11/40". scotlandsplaces.gov.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Holborn Head,fort,Scrabster (SM559)". portal.historicenvironment.scot. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Atlas of Hillforts: Holburn Head". hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  6. ^ "MHG2385 - Promontory Fort, Holburn Head - Highland Historic Environment Record". her.highland.gov.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  7. ^ "Holburn Head". canmore.org.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  8. ^ Signet.), Robert MACKAY (Writer to the (1829). History of the House and Clan of Mackay, containing ... besides accounts of many other Scottish Families, a variety of historical notices, ... more particularly of those relating to the Northern Division of Scotland. ... With a genealogical table of the Clan.
  9. ^ "Holborn Head, Scrabster". Walkhighlands. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Scothighlands - Holborn Head Lighthouse and Walk, Scrabster". scothighlands.com. Retrieved 12 November 2019.[permanent dead link]