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
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
Inverness And Bona
NH 60192 37715
260192, 837715


Thomas Telford, circa 1815, with alterations to form a lighthouse circa 1848. 2-storey octagonal former dwelling and lighthouse with various single-storey storage and stable additions extending to the north and east. The group is enclosed to the rear by a high coped rubble wall.

The buildings are predominantly all white rendered. There are shallow round-headed recesses to the octagonal ground floor with window openings in alternate bays. There are square recesses in the alternate first floor bays. A first floor oriel window to the west would have contained the former light. The slate roofs are predominantly piended. The former stable area is at the end of the north west range and it retains its setts and central drainage channel. There are three coped stacks with clay cans.

The interior was not seen in 2013. All the windows are boarded up.

Statement of Special Interest

Bona Lighthouse is a good example of an early canal related structure designed by renowned engineer Thomas Telford and it is an interesting and rare example of an inland light. It sits prominently on a peninsula on Loch Dochfour, at the north end of Loch Ness. It is an important part of the early history of the Caledonian canal.

The stretch of water where Bona Lighthouse sits is part of the route taken to access the canal, and is situated adjacent to the end of Loch Ness where the water narrows before flowing into Loch Dochfour. The channel at Bona, from Bon Ath, meaning white ford, was once a major crossing for drove roads. The small quay close to the building is situated at the site of the Bona Ferry crossing (following a General Wade road) through to Dores. By 1848 it was established as a pier for ferries and by 1864 it was replaced with stone. Telford and his colleagues would have been familiar with the site and its favourable setting due to the history of crossing here.

Between 1814 and 1818 the construction of the canal had stretched from Dochgarroch to reach Loch Ness, and the building at Bona was constructed at around this time. The building was first used as a dwelling house and store until 1848. As evidenced in the statement of significance produced by architectural firm LDN in 2009, originally there would have been a bedroom over a ground floor kitchen in the octagonal space, with a single storey store and stables to left, and single room to the rear. In 1844 canal engineers deepened and widened the Bona channel, and raised the level of the waters on the loch, marking the transition from horses pulling barges to steam tugs instead. There is evidence of stabling at Bona; original drawings in the report show four stables, indicating that this building may have been used as a stopping point along the canal. When improvements were carried out to the canal at Fort Augustus in 1847, the building at Bona would become a light shortly afterwards, and act as a visual aide to guide craft from Loch Ness into the narrow channel of the Caledonian Canal network.

Inland lights are uncommon in Scotland however a large proportion of those that are in existence are along the Caledonian Canal network: such as the pepper-pot lighthouses at Fort Augustus, Corpach and Gairlochy. Bona lighthouse may not have been purpose built for use as a light, but it was always intended to be a viewpoint even before it was adapted to hold light technology.

Intriguingly, the shape and form of the building at Bona is reminiscent of similar Telford construction of octagonal shaped tollhouses in Shropshire and on the road to Holyhead in Wales. Telford was involved in the upgrade to the main road, and many houses there share the same polygonal design. There is a very similar shaped tollhouse building attributed to Telford at Conan Bridge, and another near Tore. The position of Bona, at the pinch point of the river, with its protruding front bay and former stables, may suggest that the building was used as a toll prior to the light improvement however this has not been evidenced in research.

The whole of the Caledonian Canal is a Scheduled Monument which identifies it as being of national importance to Scotland. For this section of the Caledonian Canal see Scheduled Monument No 6498.

The Caledonian Canal is one of five canals surviving in Scotland but is unique among them as being the only one entirely funded by public money. The canal was part of a wider infrastructure initiative across the Highlands to facilitate trade and the growth of industry and, most importantly for the Government, to tackle the emigration problem resulting from the Highland Clearances, by providing much-needed employment. The experienced engineer Thomas Telford submitted a report in 1802 to Government commissioners which detailed the route and size of the canal. The canal connects Inverness in the north to Corpach, near Fort William in the west, by linking four lochs: Loch Dochfur, Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. The total length of the canal is 60 miles, but only 22 miles are man-made.

Built to take sea-going ships, including the 32-gun and 44-gun frigates of the Royal Navy, the Caledonian Canal was designed on a much larger scale than other canals in Britain and the locks were the largest ever constructed at that time. This combined with the remoteness of the location and the variable ground conditions, make it a great feat of engineering and construction.

Telford was appointed principal engineer to the commission with William Jessop as consulting engineer. Although work began in 1804 rising costs and the scale of the project resulted in slow progress and the first complete journey was made on 23-24 October 1822. Whilst the Canal was constructed for commercial use it was never a commercial success. Since its opening it was beset by problems and had to be closed for repairs and improvements in the 1840s. However the canal became popular with passenger steamers with tourism increasing following a visit by Queen Victoria on 16 September 1873.

Listed building record updated as part of the Scottish Canals estate review (2013-14).



Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1870, published 1875). 25 inches to the mile. 1st Ed. London: Ordnance Survey.

Hume, J. (1977) The Industrial Archaeology of Scotland Volume 2. p.202.

Hume, J. (1997) Harbour Lights. Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group. p12.

LDN Architects, Statement of Significance, 2009.

Miers, M (2008) The Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Rutland Press. p29.

NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT, xiv, (1835) p.26. (

Paxton, R. & Shipway, J. (2007) Civil Engineering Heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands. London. pp 160-1.

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.

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Bona Lighthouse at Lochend, Caledonian Canal, looking northeast, during daytime on a cloudy day.

Printed: 26/02/2024 16:47