Start Point Lighthouse Orkney

Start Point Lighthouse, Sanday

Start Point Lighthouse is located on the island of Sanday in Orkney. It is the only Scottish Lighthouse with distinctive vertical black stripes as its daymark.

Sanday is a small tidal island with several rocks and reefs lying beyond the beaches at Scuthvie.

The island of Sanday was first marked by an unlit stone beacon, which proved inadequate.

Robert Stevenson decided to build a light at Start Point on Sanday to replace the beacon at North Ronaldsay. Work started on its construction in 1806, and the light was first displayed on 2nd October 1806. The ball from the top of the beacon at Sanday was moved to the beacon at North Ronaldsay, and which is still in existence today.

Start Point Lighthouse, Orkney
Photo: Patrick Tubby

Start Point Lighthouse stands above Tobacco Rock, and was the first to have a revolving light, distinguishing it from other fixed lights.  The vertical black and white stripes were added in 1915.

During the building of the lighthouse, the vessel Stromness set off to return workmen to Leith.  However, a storm drove them onto Flotta Island, where they sought shelter.  A cable broke at night, and she was wrecked on the island.  All but the cabin boy perished.

Start Point

Two keepers and their families lived on the island until 1962, when the lighthouse was automated. 

Care must be taken when crossing the tidal causeway to the island, which is cut off at high water and can be very slippery.

Tidal causeway, Sanday

Access to the island is via Kirkwall and neighbouring islands. Sanday Heritage Centre in Lady Village has some excellent exhibits and archives relating to Start Point Lighthouse and Orkney heritage.

Established: 1806
Engineer: Robert Stevenson
Tower Height: 23 metres
Light Character: Fl (2) W 20 s
Light Range: 18 miles
Elevation: 18 metres