Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
Planning Authority
Orkney Islands
Walls And Flotta
ND 34702 89394
334702, 989394



David Stevenson, 1858. 22 metre circular tower; brick; whitewashed. Stugged long and short surrounds to openings; advanced cills. Base course with band course above. Entrance door to NW; single 2nd and 3rd stage windows centred above. 4th stage window to SE; 5th stage window to NE. Stone corbels support walkway at 6th stage; metal railings to walkway. Conical roof to lantern at 7th stage; lattice glazing. Flagpole to N of lighthouse.

INTERIOR: timber boarded door; metal grille gate to exterior. Brass lock inscribed 'NL' (Northern Lighthouse) and brass knob on interior of door. Painted tongue and groove panelling to ground floor. Stone steps spiral round central space (for former clock pendulum) to 2nd and 3rd stages. Landing at 4th stage. Cast-iron step-ladder to lantern; brass handrail. Semi-circular battery room at 5th stage; work room (formerly contained clock) at 6th stage and access to exterior walkway. Lantern at 7th stage; modern lens; slatted floor; concave ceiling.


1858. 2 single storey keepers' cottages. Brick; stugged long and short quoins; whitewash. Paraffin shed at NE end of range.

SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 2 doors; flanking windows; extra window to far left and right. Door to far right.

SW ELEVATION: plain gable walls.

NW ELEVATION: 2 later lean-to porches; flanking single window to each. Window to porch gable wall; door in inner return of each porch.

NE ELEVATION: window to left gable wall; door to right gable wall.

Timber sash and case windows. Inset timber boarded doors; fanlights. Double ridge Welsh slate roof. Coped gable end stacks to SW gables; coped ridge stack to front and rear; central coped stack.


Engineer's shed to NE of lighthouse. Single storey, rectangular-plan, flat-roofed shed; canted corners to E. Plain base course and cornice. Rendered. Plain entrance elevation; door to left; metal grille gate to doorway; inset timber boarded door. Window to N, E and S. Single storey sheds to N corner of boundary wall; whitewashed brick. Piended roof to left; door; window to right flank. 2 central doors; window to right and left. Door to far right; flanking single windows. Pitched roof to right; Welsh slate roof. Coped ridge stack to centre left. Timber boarded doors; fixed lights and sash and case windows. Detached half-pitched shed to left; whitewashed brick.


Square-plan rubble boundary wall painted white; rough coping stones. Plain square-plan gatepiers to NE; base; conical coping stones; replacement metal gate. Fluted cast-iron sundial pedestal (sundial missing) stands to W of keepers' cottages; painted white.

Statement of Special Interest

The lighthouse was built to mark the southern approach to Scapa Flow. It has been powered by candle, paraffin and diesel and presently by hydro power charged batteries. The original lens is housed at Lyness Museum. The 3 lighthouse keepers would operate shifts to run the lighthouse. The engineer's shed housed the former diesel engine, which generated the foghorn. The foghorn was in use from 1913 to 1987. Cantick Head Lighthouse is now automatic and continues in operation today (2000). The later Principal Lighthouse Keeper's house is excluded from Listing.



1st Edition OS 25" Map (CXXIII.7), 1881; J Hume, THE INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY OF SCOTLAND, 2, THE HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS, 1977, p251; L Burgher, ORKNEY, 1991, p73; J Leslie, R Paxton, BRIGHT LIGHTS, 1999, p192.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 15/08/2022 10:21