Auskerry Lighthouse

Photo: Patrick Tubby

Auskerry Lighthouse is located at the northern entrance to Stronsay Firth, about three miles south of Stronsay. Auskerry is Old Norse for East Skerry. It is a flat, low-lying island, so the lighthouse needs to be tall enough to gain elevation.

The island is flat, and the lighthouse is located in Baa Taing.  It is similar in design to the lighthouse at Muckle Skerry in the Pentland Firth, except that the Pentland Skerries Lighthouse has two towers.

The lighthouse, established in 1866, was designed by David and Thomas Stevenson. Construction started in 1864.

Auskerry Lighthouse

Two families lived at the lighthouse until 1940, when it was altered to rock status. The families then moved to accommodation at Stromness. From that time, three keepers lived in the upstairs apartment. 

During the First World War, the Navy was stationed on the island for signal and radar surveillance, living in huts near the lighthouse.

To the south of the lighthouse, there is a crater caused by one of two bombs that fell on the lighthouse grounds during the Second World War.  The second unexploded bomb was not found. As a result of the air strike, two anti-aircraft guns were placed on the island to be manned by the lighthouse keepers.

Shipwreck on Auskerry
Remains of the SS County Hastings on the shoreline
Photo: Patrick Tubby

During foggy weather, a Norwegian cargo vessel, SS County Hastings ran aground on the island’s northwest side in 1926.   The ship broke up and parts of it were scattered over a wide area, some pieces are still visible.

Auskerry Lighthouse was automated in July 1961 and was the first Orkney lighthouse to be automated.  Following automation, the island was uninhabited for a time, having previously been a seal-hunting location.

The keepers’ accommodation was then sold into private ownership. It comprised two flats, one of which was used as a summer residence.

Auskerry Lighthouse
Photo: Patrick Tubby

In recent times a family living on the island has kept North Ronaldsay sheep here.  The sheep are known for their diet of seaweed.

The stone bothy was converted into a house with modern facilities.

Leading marks on Auskerry
Leading marks at the landing stage
Photo: Patrick Tubby

The island has a standing stone and medieval chapel and is a Special Protection Area. Arctic terns and European storm petrels are known to nest here.

This video is a three-part documentary about life on the privately-owned island.

Established: 1866
Engineer: David and Thomas Stevenson
Tower Height: 34 metres
Light Character: Fl W 20 s
Light Range: 20 miles
Elevation: 34 metres