Ardnamurchan Lighthouse is situated on the most westerly point of the British Mainland. It was established in 1849 by Alan Stevenson.
There have been many arguments about the name Ardnamurchan, two of the most likely are, Point of the sea-hounds or otters, (Airde meaning Point, Muirchu meaning sea-hound or otters) and the Point of the pirates or wreckers (where the “col” from Muirchol means wickedness).
The site for the lighthouse was chosen in 1845 and 20 acres of land was bought for the sum of £20.00. The land was owned by Mr Alexander Cameron who was also paid, rather grudgingly, £58.00 for any inconvenience during building operations.
The contractor responsible for the building work was a Mr Hume. During the three years it took to complete the lighthouse, scurvy broke out among the workmen and a doctor had to be called in to treat them.
The oil light was first exhibited on the night of 5 October 1849.
Two lightkeepers were appointed at a yearly allowance of £18.00. They kept two cows and about a dozen sheep at the station.
On the morning of 22 January 1852 there was severe storm and lightning struck the tower causing broken panes and plaster to come off the walls. Fifty feet of boundary wall was knocked down and 40 feet of road was washed away by the heavy seas. The keepers boat was broken up although they had secured it 15 feet above the last known high water mark.
The lighthouse was automated in 1988 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s headquarters in Edinburgh.
The former keepers cottages and outbuildings are now privately operated as the Ardnamurchan Visitor’s Centre.
It should be noted that at some sites the Northern Lighthouse Board have sold some redundant buildings within the lighthouse complex and are not responsible for the maintenance of these building.