With its long coastline and about 790 islands, Scotland has been home to a large number of lighthouses. The Northern Lighthouse Board, founded in 1786, currently operates and maintains 206 lighthouses across Scotland and the Isle of Man. Automation of lighthouses began in Scotland as early as 1894, when the Oxcars Light in the River Forth had its two lightkeepers withdrawn. Fair Isle South was the last of Scotland’s manned lighthouses to be automated, on March 31 1998.
Ian Duff worked as a keeper at 13 Scottish lighthouses between 1976 and 1992. He spent about five years at Skerryvore, a remote station off the west coast of Scotland. Skerryvore is the tallest lighthouse in Scotland at about 156 feet. It was designed by Alan Stevenson and was completed in 1844. Ian also spent about five years at Duncansby Head Light Station at the most northeasterly point of the British mainland.
Ian has remained involved with lighthouses since his retirement as a keeper. Today he is the president of the Association of Light Keepers, or the ALK, an organization that provides a forum for everyone interested in lighthouses, lightships, and maritime aids to navigation.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org