Neist Point

Lighthouses of the Inner Hebrides

In Salutem Omnium
For the Safety of All
Neist Point - Isle of Skye
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© Composted by:
Bob Schrage
updated: 05-10-2018

Rinns of Islay

Description 1825. Robert Stevenson Engineer. Rubble. Tower in 5 stages; string courses. Dioptric flashing light by Barbier and Bernard, Paris, 1896. Cast-iron turnpike stair. Round-ended vestibule at ground floor; platform roof. Flanked by 2 Keeper Houses: Georgian; 1 storey; rubble; flat lead roofs; octagonal chimneys. Statement of Special Interest Evidently the earliest lighthouse in Islay. Built for Commissioners of Northern Lights. The Rinns of Islay (Scottish Gaelic: Na Roinn Ìleach; alternative English spelling Rhinns of Islay) is an area on the west of the island of Islay in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It is a peninsula that is attached to the main body of the island at its northern end. The main population centres are Port Charlotte and Portnahaven, based on the A847 that runs along its eastern coast.

It is designated a Special Protection Area due to its importance for a number of breeding and wintering birds, particularly Greenland white-fronted goose and chough. The significance of the area owes much to its wide variety of habitats including bog, moorland, dune grassland, maritime grassland, marsh and extensively-farmed agricultural land.

The Rinns of Islay lighthouse is located on the island of Orsay. The Rhinns complex, a deformed igneous complex that is considered to form the basement to the Colonsay Group of metasedimentary rocks takes its name from the Rhinns of Islay.

Rinns of Islay Lighthouse is situated on the small Island of Orsay off the south coast of Islay. Rinn is the Gaelic for point, but in this case the name came from Gaelic Rann, a division. The Rinns formed one of the three divisions of Islay. The Engineer used all his ingenuity in trying out new ways to distinguish one light from another. Rinns of Islay was alternately stationary and revolving, producing a bright 'flash' of light every 12 seconds, without those intervals of darkness which characterise other lights on the coast. The cost of this lighthouse was between £8,000 and £9,000 and John Gibb of Aberdeen was the contractor for the splendid tower. Provisions and other light stores were brought by boatmen permanently attached to the station and they also did the reliefs. Boats were normally located at the nearest point of land. Inevitably, these boats operated in stormy waters among strong tides, but accidents seldom occurred. In storms in 1877-78, however, attending boats were lost or seriously damaged by being swamped or driven ashore. In 1978 the light was changed to electric operation and this sealed beam light, mounted on a gearless revolving pedestal, has proved a real step forward in lighthouse illumination. Now that lighthouses have become automatic and unmanned, anything which illuminates the daily lives of history of those custodians of the light, the lighthouse keepers, should be preserved for posterity. Thanks to the research of my late aunt, Miriam Rothschild, a distinguished entomologist, a rare glimpse of one aspect of their isolated lives has been revealed. The lighthouse keepers at the Rhinns of islay lighthouse in 1882 were Peter Anderson and James Ducat. Apart from the main duty of looking out for vessels, tending the lantern and keeping the lighthouse spick and span they had another job as ornithologists and entomologists. My aunt described as 'one of the minor tragedies of the last World War' the loss of nearly all the Scottish Lighthouse Schedules' from 1880-87. These Schedules were a unique account of the turbulent life and death of birds and insects around lighthouses. Apparently the schedules were piled on a lorry and sent for salvage. Thanks to my aunt’s intervention, eight bound volumes and letters were saved from the bonfire. The usually dour chairman of the Scottish Lighthouses Committee remarked: 'They deserved a better fate than oblivion.'In fact the schedules were considered of such scientific importance that there was a plan (which never materialized) to send them to China, because all Chinese lighthouse keepers at the time were Scottish!


Character: Fl W 5s 46m 24M
(fl. 0.2s - ec. 4,8s)

EngineerRobert Stevenson (1772-1850)

Lat, Lon55°40.391' N, 06°30.771' W

Automated31 March 1998
CharacterFlashing White every 5 secs.
Range44 km / 24 nM
Towert29 meters, 131 steps to top of the tower
Elevation46 meters above sea level
Fog hornYes

AuthorityNorthern Lighthouse Board
RemarksCandle power 600.000 cd.
Cat.A - nr: 11944 - 20/07/1971

Rinns of Islay map
Rinns of Islay lighthouse
Rinns of Islay map
Rinns of Islay map

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