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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 08/12/1971


  • Local Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Planning Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Parish: Cross And Burness

National Grid Reference

  • NGRHY 79012 55392
  • Coordinates379012, 1055392


Thomas Smith and Ezekiel Walker, 1798. Tall, circular-plan 2-stage tower with bracketed cornice below flagstone ball finial. Harl-pointed rubble. Window (blocked) at 1st stage to E; window at 2nd stage above. Remains of rubble, single storey, rectangular-plan keepers' houses abutting base of tower to W. Abutting gable with doorway offset to right, affording entry to tower. Internal timber stair now gone.

Statement of Special Interest

Scheduled Ancient Monument, No 6596. One of the first four lighthouse to be built in Scotland. Thomas Smith was commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Board together with the English lighthouse designer, Ezekiel Walker, to build a lighthouse to illuminate the dangerous waters at the northernmost tip of Orkney. The masons, John White and James Sinclair, constructed the 70ft tower from undressed local stone. The cost of the light was estimated at ?199 12s 6d and was first lit on 10th October, 1789. The lighting system was advanced, being the catrophic, or reflecting system, consisting of a number of oil-burning lamps surrounded by copper reflectors covered in facets of mirror glass to magnify the light. This fixed light survived until 1809 when the commissioners realised that the choice of position was somewhat unfortunate. The light proved to be too low to be seen by ships coming from the west and the south and was often mistaken for a ship's light. As a consequence, it was decided to transfer the lighthouse to a higher elevation at Start Point on the island of Sanday. The original cast-iron lantern with its copper-sheathed cupola was replaced by the huge ashlar ball finial which had previously topped the Sanday beacon.



Appears on 1st edition OS map (1882); NMRS Photographic Records, O/969/4, (1966); B Wilson, THE LIGHTHOUSES OF ORKNEY, (booklet accompanying the Summer Exhibition at Stromness Museum), (1975), pp 3-4; J Hume, THE INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY OF SCOTLAND, VOL II, (1977) p 249; G Moberg, STONE BUILT ORKNEY, PHOTOGRAPHS (1979), no 2; 3RD S A (1983), p 90; L Burgher, ORKNEY, AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1991), pp 99-100; J Gifford, HIGHLAND AND ISLANDS (1992), p 347; A Ritchie, ORKNEY (1996) p 52; North Ronaldsay Community Council, THE ISLAND OF NORTH RONALDSAY, (pamphlet).

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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