Chanonry Point

Lighthouses on the East Coast of Scotland

In Salutem Omnium
For the Safety of All
Chanonry Point - Rosmarkie
Flag of Scotland
© Compiled by:
Bob Schrage
page updated: 15-02-2021
Barns Ness
Bass Rock
Bell Rock
Buchan Ness
Buddon Ness
Clyth Ness
Covesea Skerry
Elie Ness
Fife Ness
Gridle Ness
Isle of May
Kinnaird Head
Noss Head
Scurdie Ness
St Abbs Head
Tarbat Ness
Tod Head

Lighthouse plaque

Under Construction

Place of the lighthouse

The Lighthouse

Cromarty (pronunciation: Listeni/ˈkrɒmərti/; Scottish Gaelic: "Crombagh", [ˈkʰɾɔumpə]). the bent bay, but some stymologists maintain it means the little place at bend, is a civil parish and former royal burgh in Ross and Cromarty, in the Highland area of Scotland. In 2001 it had a population of 719 inhabetants.

The name Cromarty variously derives from the Gaelic crom (crooked), and from bati (bay), or from àrd (height), meaning either the "crooked bay", or the "bend between the heights" (referring to the high rocks, or Sutors, which guard the entrance to the Firth), and gave the title to the Earldom of Cromartie. Its name in 1264 was Crumbathyn.

Cromarty stands close to the tip of the of the peninsula known as the Black Isle, which projects into the North Sea between the Moray Firth to the south and the Cromarty Firth to the north. It benefits from the protective shadow of the Sutors of Cromarty, the high ground to the east, and is the principle settlement on the Black Isle.

The village looks north across the Cromarty Firth towards the fabrication yards at Nigg. It occupies a triangle of ground, with sea on two sides, and you get the very strong sense of a history that is intimately tied to the sea and to seafaring. Cromarty's major phase of development was overseen by the local laird, George Ross of Pitkerrie and Cromarty, in 1770s.

He built the harbour, and imported raw materials from the Baltic to feed the cloth, rope and ironware factories he also built here. These were operated by workers brought in from all parts of the Highlands. There has been a ferry port here for many centuries. The village lay on the main coastal route north from Inverness, and formed a key staging post in the pilgrimage undertaken by many to the Chapel of St Duthac at Tain.

Board of Trade sanction was granted in 1842 to build Cromarty lighthouse, on the North East tip of the Black Isle to guide vessels in from the Moray Firth to the Cromarty Firth. Thomas Watson was appointed as Superintendent and David Mitchell from Montrose was the contractor responsible for the buildings. The estimated cost was £3,030.

The engineers report of 1844 stated - "a catadioptic apparatus of the 4th order is to be used; while owing to the necessity of adopting a red light as a distinction it seems probable as noticed in last years report, that in order to obtain sufficient power in the direction of the entrance to the Firth, as well as an illumination of the interior of the anchorage, a combination of a single reflector with the shaded catadioptric apparatus may be found necessary".

In January 2005, the three General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) of the UK and Ireland issued a consultation document following a joint review of Aids to Navigation of the coasts of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Review addressed the current and future requirements of national and international vesselping and those of Mariners. Each Aid to Navigation - light, buoy or beacon - was studied in isolation, as well as in relation to the other Aids to Navigation in its vicinity. As a result of this review it was agreed to discontinue the light at Cromarty, as the function of this light was now performed by buoyage. Cromarty Lighthouse was therefore permanently discontinued with effect from 28 February 2006.

Cromarty Firth has long been an important haven, being sheltered, deep, easily defended and very large. This was recognised by the Royal Navy through both first and second world wars. In more recent decades it has been associated with the North Sea oil boom, with both Nigg and Invergordon being used as service and construction yards. For many years this was signified by the string of rigs moored along the length of the Firth and readily visible from Cromarty. The rise in oil prices meant that by early 2007 the world demand for oil rigs was very high and there was no longer a surplus needing to be parked here. Many have since returned as oil prices have dropped.

Cromarty ferry
Britains'smallest verhicle ferry

The port was home to Britain's smallest vehicle ferry, the Cromarty Rose, running across the Firth to Nigg. The Cromarty Rose was sold in 2009 and replaced for the 2011 season by a new four-car ferry called the Cromarty Queen which continued the service from 2011-2014. After a year with no ferry in 2015, new operators Highland Ferries were awarded the ferry contract and re-commenced the regular service between Cromarty and Nigg with the Renfrew Rose running from June to September, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily, offering once again a direct route North from the Black Isle.

Cromarty is architecturally important by its Georgian merchant houses that stand within the townscape of Georgian and Victorian fisherman's cottages in the local vernacular style. It is an outstanding example of an 18th/19th century burgh, "the jewel in the crown of Scottish Vernacular Architecture". The thatched house with crow-stepped gables in Church Street, in which the geologist Hugh Miller was born (in 1801), still stands, and a statue has been erected to his memory. To the east of the burgh is Cromarty House, occupying the site of the old castle of the earls of Ross. It was the birthplace of Sir Thomas Urquhart, the translator of Rabelais.

The burgh is also noted as a base for viewing the local offshore sea life. These include one of the most northerly groups of bottlenose dolphins. Cromarty along with Chanonry Point just round the coast is one of the best places in Europe to see these animals close to the shore. The University of Aberdeen Department of Zoology Lighthouse Field Station is based in Cromarty.

The site of the town's medieval burgh dating to at least the 12th century was identified by local archaeologists after winter storms in 2012 on eroded sections of the shoreline. A community archaeology project started in 2013 is investigating the remains of roads and buildings at the site on the eastern edge of the present town.

From 1832 to 1918 Cromarty was a parliamentary burgh, combined with Dingwall, Dornoch, Kirkwall, Tain and Wick in the Wick Burghs constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Known also as Northern Burghs, the constituency was a district of burghs. It was represented by one Member of Parliament. In 1918 the constituency was abolished and the Cromarty component was merged into the county constituency of Ross and Cromarty.

Description Alan Stevenson, 1846. Lighthouse and keeper's house in Egyptian manner. Lighthouse, 2 stage, squat lighthouse drum, corbelled to support cast-iron balustrade and domed lantern, set in wide, single storey semi-circular base. Projecting Graeco-Egyptian portico. White painted broached ashlar with ochre margins and dressings to tower. Keeper's House, single storey, 3 bay house with lower single bay wings. Slightly projecting Graeco-Egyptian doorpiece with similarly detailed pylon pilasters flanking 3 central bays low coved parapet. Similar detail continued in both pairs of stacks. White painted broached ashlar. 16 pane sashes. Flat roof. Coped rubble wall surrounds Lighthouse and Keeper's House. Statement of Special Interest Similar to Lighthouse and Keeper's House, Chanonry, Rosemarkie.


Character: (discont.)

Engineer: Alan Stevenson (1807-1865)

Lat, Lon: 57°40.988' N, 04°02.175' W

Established: 1846
Character: Occulting White/Red every 10 s.
Range: 27.7 km / 15 NM
Elevation: 18 meters above sealevel
Tower: 13 meters, 38 steps to the top
Init. Costs: £ ?.
Econ. Costs*: £ ?.
*) According to:

Automated: 1985
Last Keepers: ? - PLK
: ? - ALK
: ? - ALK
Fog horn: No

Status: Discontinued 28 February 2006
Authority: University of Aberdeen
Remarks: Cat.A listed - LB23680 - 25/03/1971

Cromarty lighthouse
Cromarty lighthouse
Cromarty map
Cromarty map

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