Like the other islands near North Berwick, Fidra is the result of volcanic activity around 335 million years ago. Fidra consists of three sections; a hill at one end with the lighthouse on it, a low-lying section in the middle and a rocky stacks at the other end.
The island's name believed to be Old Norse in origin, referring to the large number of bird feathers found there. Like the nearby Bass Rock, it has a substantial seabird population, and is now an RSPB reserve. The village of Gullane lies to the south-west, and the nature reserve of Yellowcraig and village of Dirleton, to which parish Fidra belongs, are to the south. Remotely operated cameras on the island send live pictures to the watching visitors at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.
Upon the island are ruins of an old chapel, or lazaretto for the sick, which was dedicated in 1165 to St Nicholas. In the 12th-century, the island formed part of the barony of Dirleton, which was granted to the Anglo-Norman John de Vaux by King David I. The de Vaux family built a stronghold, known as Tarbet Castle, on the island, but in 1220, William de Vaux gifted Fidra to monks of Dryburgh Abbey, in the Borders. His successor built Dirleton Castle, on the mainland, as a replacement dwelling.
The number of breeding puffins on the island has increased recently due to the removal of an introduced plant, tree mallow (Lavatera arborea). It is likely that it was planted by lighthouse keepers for use as toilet paper, and for its medicinal qualities. The shrub was blocking the entrances to the breeding burrows, and in 1996 the number of occupied burrows had fallen to approximately 400. After cleaning by the RSPB Scotland staff and volunteers there are now over 1,000 burrows occupied in 2016.
The Fidra Lighthouse was first lit in 1885, compulsory powers having been taken to acquire land for its construction. In 1970 it became the first lighthouse of the Northern Lighthouse Board converted to unattended automatic installation (monitored from St Abbs Head), being electrified with electric power supplied from the mainland through a submarine cable and equipped with a sealed beam light.
The lighthouse was automated by the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1970. On the 21 June 2013 the operational responsibility and ownervessel of three lighthouses in the Firth of Forth was transferred from the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) to Forth Ports PLC.
The lighthouses at Inchkeith, Fidra and Elie Ness have been looked after by the NLB since they were established as early as 1804 however it was considered that as the lights were within the limits of the Forth Ports harbour they qualified for transfer to the Forth Ports under the terms of the Merchant vesselping Act 1995.
Character: Fl(4) W 30s 34m 24M
(fl. 0.8s - ec. 2s)
|Engineer||Thomas Stevenson (1818-1887)|
|David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938)|
|Lat, Lon||56°04.393' N, 02°47.108' W|
|Character||Flashing(4) White every 30 secs.|
|Range||44.4 km / 24 NM|
|Elevation||34 meters above sealevel|
|Authority||Forth Ports PLC|
|Remarks||Candlepower 92.000 cd.|
|Cat.C listed - nr: 1336 - 05/02/1971|