Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2011

Book Review

Northern Lights – The Age of Scottish Lighthouses

By Timothy Harrison


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With the upcoming 200th elaborate anniversary celebrations being planed for Scotland’s world famous Bell Rock Lighthouse, the release of Northern Lights by A. D. Morrison-Low comes at the perfect time.

While the history of America’s lighthouses is fascinating, nothing can really compare to the amazing history of the lighthouses of Scotland, which truly has one of the most dangerous coastlines in the world.

The stories of how Scotland’s coastline was lighted are filled with determination and engineering endeavors of historic proportion, especially with its off shore lighthouses, feats that may well be unequaled in lighthouse history.

Although this book doesn’t have as many photographs as I would like to have seen, the images it does truly complement the story, especially the wonderful rare and old images.

The book goes into careful detail on the history of the Northern Lighthouse Board, which was formed in 1786 with responsibilities similar to those of the Lighthouse Establishment, the Light House Board and Bureau of Lighthouse in the United States, but perhaps with much more pomp.

Included in the book is an account of the building of the world’s first rock lighthouse at Eddystone, its demise and rebuilding, and the lessons learned by Robert Stevenson, whose lighthouse family became associated with building lighthouses for three generations. Those lessons were used not only to build lighthouses in Scotland, but also in Newfoundland, Burma, Japan, and New Zealand, all of which are very well documented in this book.

The soft cover book, with 288 high quality pages and 100 color and black and white photos, is a “must have” for anyone interested in learning more about the early lighthouse development in Scotland and the Stevenson family from information largely obtained from the archives of the National Museums Scotland.

Northern Lights, The Age of Scottish Lighthouses is available on-line at www.nms.ac.uk/books.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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