Dubh Artach: Black Rock Lighthouse (Scotland)
One of my favorite writers, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) (author of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, The Body Snatchers) used scenes from lighthouses in some of his wonderful stories.
Stevenson came from a long line of lighthouse-builders. As a young man, he spent several weeks with his father (Tomas Stevenson) and uncle (David Stevenson) on the remote tidal island of Earraid in the Hebrides (Scotland). His father was there for the construction of the Dubh Artach lighthouse (also known as the “Black Rock”), a 145 foot (44 m) tower.
The project had its challenges. The rock itself was subject to extraordinary sea conditions: waves of more than 90 feet (28 m) being one of them.
Between 1800 and 1854, 30 ships were wrecked on the reef, only to be followed by 24 vessels in a particularly fierce storm in 1865. The losses prompted vociferous demands for a lighthouse and the Stevensons were given the task of designing tower which could withstand breaking sea water falling on its roof up to 77 feet (23 m) above sea level.
While I’ve never been to Dubh Artach, I feel it might be a kindred spirit to the Cabot Head lighthouse. Both are places which fire the imagination and I find myself wondering if Dubh Artach might also have its own ghosts. Perhaps a lightkeeper who lost his life in a rescue attempt and who still haunts the shoreline? Or drowned passengers who still call out on stormy night…?
Robert Louis Stevenson’s time at Dubh Artach became the scene for David Balfour’s dramatic and almost fatal shipwreck in his novel, Kidnapped.
More lighthouses here.