Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing 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.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
Arbroath And St Vigeans
NO 76165 26808
376165, 726808


Robert Stevenson, engineer, with John Rennie consulting engineer, 1808-11. Sited on half-tide complex of reefs, tall (36m), curved tapering masonry tower with base courses set into rock. Lowest courses Rubislaw granite, upper courses and lateral divisions Carmyllie sandstone. Tapering curved base of solid masonry, interlocking ashlars pegged with stone pegs between courses. Door cill dates 1809, reached by bronze ladder (early addition). Gallery at doorway (later addition). Lantern platform corbelled, with echinus moulding, extended in 1960s in steel with welded brackets. Simple aluminium railing of same period with radio and television aerials attached. Gallery built out in SSE octant for solar panel when light automated in 1988. Triangular-panel lantern with copper dome, now surrounded by bird protection set on light framework. Smooth taper of tower interrupted by concrete projections on S, E and W elevations, housing ventilation grilles for generator room and battery room. INTERIOR: 6 levels of accommodation within masonry tower. From bottom: entrance chamber; salt-water lavatory; generator room; battery room; bedroom; kitchen/living room. Rooms separated by flat-vaulted floors of dovetailed ashlar, roof of kitchen/ living room (base of lantern platform) similarly constructed, but domed. Control room in base of lantern and glazed lantern space complete. No original fittings. Following fire in 1987 gas-light aluminium hatches inserted in original openings between chambers and aluminium ladder bolted to walls to communicate between spaces. Acetylene light with small triangular Fresnel optic installed 1988.

WALKWAYS: 2 walkways leading to landing places, both with cast-or wrought-iron frames, with cast-iron grid inserts. Some grids and 1 section of frame replaced in steel.

Statement of Special Interest

The Bell Rock was the first lighthouse constructed on a half-tide rock and the story of its construction is an epic one recounted by Robert Stevenson. Though the internal fittings have all been replaced, a few minor external additions have been made and the lantern and gallery have been renewed since the lighthouse was first built, Stevenson's stone tower remains virtually unaltered. The extent to which John Rennie contributed to the design is not clear, but Robert Stevenson was the engineer in charge of construction and deserves most of the credit for this remarkable structure. As built it had a revolving light with bands of silvered parabolic reflectors and oil lamps. The original optical apparatus, using parabolic mirrors, was replaced in 1867, 1871, 1903 and 1964. The present lantern probably dates from 1903. When the lighthouse was electrified in 1964 an apparatus from Chicken Rock Lighthouse, Isle of Man, was installed, this was removed in 1986, during the conversion of the light to automatic operation, and is now in the Signal Tower Museum, Arbroath. (Information from Northern Lighthouse Board, Angus Museums Service.) The Signal Tower Museum was constructed to communicate visually with the lighthouse. Linked in an A group with Bell Rock Lighthouse Signal Tower and Lodges, in Arbroath Burgh, to mark the functional relationship between the subjects.




About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). 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 only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. 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 Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. 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 current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


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Printed: 26/03/2019 03:00