Girdle Ness

Girdle Ness Lighthouse is situated on the Girdle Ness Peninsula just south of the entrance to Aberdeen harbour.


Girdle Ness Lighthouse was established in 1833 and engineered by Robert Stevenson. The lighthouse is listed as a building of Architectural/Historic interest.

The early years

Following the wrecking of The Oscar, a whaling ship in 1813 where only two survived out of a crew of 45, the shipmaster of Aberdeen requested that a light be established at Girdle Ness.

The lighthouse was built by Aberdeen contractor, James Gibb. The light had a new form of double light, showing two distinct lights from the same tower, one above the other, both fixed. The lower light consisted of 13 lamps and reflectors arranged like a garland in a glazed gallery built round the outside of the tower about one third of the way up. The lower light was discontinued in 1890. The main light was altered in 1847 and the old lantern which was too small, was transferred to Inchkeith.

In 1860 the Astronomer Royal, Professor George Airy, (later Sir George) visited Girdle Ness and described it as “the best lighthouse that I have seen… fronted to seaward with weather-resisting glass a quarter of an inch thick and gun metal astragals. The dome of the lighthouse looks immense from inside whereas from the ground some 136 feet below it looks minute. The lamp is framed by 2 large concave reflectors which sent its 200,000 candlepower beams 25 miles out to sea on a good night.”

Before electrification, the incandescent brightness was attained by pressure-vaporised paraffin, which burned at a rate of 9½ gills an hour. The lamp and reflectors were activated through an arc covering the entire seafront by a clockwork motor and imbedded in a mercury bath to pressure an even bearing. The fog horn was put into operation when visibility fell below five miles.

During the 2nd World War a mine drifted ashore on 18 November 1944 and exploded, but damage was mainly confined to the doors and windows in the dwelling house and the tower.

Technical specifications

The Optic System is controlled using a standard NLB Gearless Pedestal/Lamp Array Controller to link the various elements into an ordered sequence. When one lamp fails, there is a consistent reduction in range of all flashes in the group.

The Gearless Pedestal Drive System is equipped with two drive fluxmeters which operate together and share the drive. Should one fail, one can assume the drive itself.

Lamp Arrays rotated by Gearless Pedestal Drive Systems are normally installed at sites supplied with mains electricity. These systems rotate only during nighttime. The Lamp Arrays also have DC supplied reserve lamps for use when the mains fail.

In event of a Main Optic failure, a single Emergency Lantern is automatically selected. This is a 250mm lantern, with a range of 10 miles.

There is also a Racon at the site. From the mid-1990s to 31 March 2022, Girdle Ness Lighthouse was one of the General Lighthouse Authorities transmitting stations for Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS).


The fog signal was discontinued in 1987 and the light was automated in 1991. It is remotely monitored from NLB’s headquarters in Edinburgh.

At some sites NLB has sold redundant buildings within the lighthouse complex and is not responsible for the maintenance of these buildings.


Year Established



Robert Stevenson


Latitude   57°08.339'N
Longitude 002°02.916'W


Flashing (2) White every 20 seconds


56 metres


22 nautical miles


White round tower 37 metres high. There are 182 steps to top of tower

Public Access


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