Dunnet Head lighthouse occupies the most northerly point of mainland Scotland and was built by Robert Stevenson in 1831. The optical system was changed to lenses in 1852. Dunnet Head Lighthouse is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch (and 25-inch) map (Caithness, 1876, sheet 1) as four roofed buildings with three enclosures, a garden and a flagstaff. By the date of the 2nd edition of 1907 (ibid) a ‘fog siren’ had been added.

The Object Name Book of the Ordnance Survey describes this group of buildings thus: “The lighthouse, which was erected in 1831, is, at one part not much more than 50 feet from the edge of the precipice. During a heavy storm from the west, the enormous billows, as they dash against the rugged face of the cliff, throw up the spray as high as the light of the building, often mingled with stones which occasionally break the glass”. “And such is the prodigious force of the wind and the sea united upon the headland, that the very rock itself seems to tumble: while the lighthouse shakes from top to bottom, as if it were affected by an earthquake”. The light, which is a fixed one, is “seen at the distance of 23 miles. The height of the lantern above the highest spring tides is 346 feet”.

This lighthouse was erected at a great expense by the Commissioners for Northern Lights. A small harbour was built by them at Brough for landing stores and a well-made road connects it with the lighthouse. The lighthouse continues to be maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board It was automated in 1989 and is now remotely controlled. The buildings are protected with Grade B Listed status.

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