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
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Shetland Islands
Planning Authority
Shetland Islands
HU 40723 7872
440723, 1107872


Robert Stevenson, 1821, with additional buildings of later 19th century and 1905. Complex of lighthouse buildings on sloping promontory site including original tower with flanking pavilions (keeper's accommodation), engine house and additional building adjacent to S, and horn house to E. All buildings with harled walls, and stugged and droved ashlar dressings, all painted. Base and eaves courses, margined openings and projecting cills.

TOWER AND KEEPER'S ACCOMMODATION: symmetrical arrangement comprising 2-storey, 3-bay classical pavilions flanking battered circular tower on single storey podium between. Tower; narrow 8-pane timber sash and case window to E, oculi to E and W at floor above. Balcony with cast-iron handrail corbelled out over moulded cornice, metal murette with vertically-boarded timber door to domed lantern containing revolving reflector.

W (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: central door in podium wall, stone stair rising to flagged tower base at 1st floor level. Centre bay of pavilions slightly advanced, vertically-boarded timber doors with brass handles at ground flanking centre, regular fenestration in centre and outer bays at 1st floor, inner bays blank. Ashlar-coped rubble retaining wall extending to left, surmounted by hooped wrought-iron railing.

E ELEVATION: symmetrical, tower at centre flanked by battered screen walls with margined doorways and corniced wallheads; single storey (lower floor concealed) 3-bay pavilions flanking, centre bay advanced, now obscured by modern additions (1996); regular fenestration in flanking bays.

12-pane timber sash and case windows. Flat roofs with cast-iron corniced gutters and downpipes. Paired stugged ashlar octagonal stacks centring pavilion roofs; square bases swept up to octagonal shafts with corniced copes and circular cans.

ENGINE HOUSE: Single storey, 8-bay flat-roofed block. Long and short dressings and projecting cills to windows.

E ELEVATION: 8-bay elevation, 2-leaf vertically-boarded timber door with glazed uppers and 2-pane fanlight at centre. 3-bay engine room to left, wide 2-leaf vertically-boarded timber door in centre bay, regular fenestration in flanking bays. Matching windows flanking vertically- boarded timber door with 2-pane fanlight in bays to outer right, additional plate glass window to left.


S ELEVATION: 2 bays with windows matching W elevation.

W ELEVATION: asymmetrical 8-bay elevation, small flat-roofed porch and window flanking centre to left and right respectively, regular fenestration in flanking bays except for smaller window in penultimate bay to left.

Timber sash and case windows, principal windows with 2-pane lower sashes and 6-pane upper sashes; plate glass to other openings.

INTERIOR: Engine room to S, decorative tiled floor, tiled dado, machinery and tanks by James Dove & Co of Edinburgh 1906.

SW BUILDING: symmetrical 2-storey, 3-bay flat-roofed block.

E ELEVATION: blank centre bay, vertically-boarded timber doors in outer bays, additional small square plate glass fixed-light to outer left; 12-pane timber sash and case windows at 1st floor.

W ELEVATION: 2-leaf vertically-boarded timber door centred at ground, 4-pane timber sash and case window in bay to left, blind window in bay to right, 12-pane fixed-light only centred at 1st floor.

Harled wallhead stack centring side elevations; coped with circular cans.

SUNDIAL: bollard-like cast-iron plinth to sundial (now removed 1996) comprising square stone base with tapered and fluted shaft corniced at top.

FOG HORN HOUSE: 2-tier tower comprising battered semi-circular plan concrete plinth with vertically disposed rivetted cast-iron oil tanks against W elevation; cast-iron ladder at left, rising to platform with semi-octagonal flat-roofed upper tier; cogged track on wallhead supporting rotating horn.

BOUNDARY WALLS AND GATEPIERS: flagstone rubble boundary wall, partially harl-pointed and whitewashed with wrought-iron gate to S and W. Stugged and droved square gatepiers with pyramidal caps to principal entrance; matching piers flanking gate to E. 2-tier retaining wall bounding SE side of approach road; walls flanking lower end of approach road terminated by matching gatepiers.

Statement of Special Interest

Shetland's first lighthouse, built on the site of an ancient fort. It is sited on Sumburgh Head as dramatically as a castle, particularly when approach by road from the north, or by sea from the south. Stevenson's starkly formal design contrasts with the rugged imformality of the site. Other than the lantern dome, and later infilling of the outer first floor windows, the W elevation remains as in his design drawing. As such, this is one of Scotland's finest surviving pieces of early 19th century architecture.



Mike Finnie SHETLAND (1990) p52. John Gifford HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS (1992) p510.

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: 23/01/2019 21:50