Later 19th cent. Tall tower with keepers' houses at base.
Statement of Special Interest
Now automatically operated.
Auskerry (Old Norse: Austrsker, east skerry) is a small island in eastern Orkney, Scotland. It lies in the North Sea south of Stronsay and has a lighthouse, completed in 1866.
Auskerry is a small, flat, red sandstone islet, 3 miles (5 km) south of Stronsay. A standing stone and mediaeval chapel are signs of early settlement. The island was uninhabited for a time after the automation of the lighthouse in the 1960s. It was previously a popular location for hunting seals.
Auskerry has been inhabited for 30 years by a family who keep a flock of rare North Ronaldsay sheep. There are three small wind turbines and four solar panels on the island, which provide most of the power. After a series of expansions and renovations, the single roomed stone bothy is now a modern house with four bedrooms, kitchen, shower room and living room. The chemical toilet is outdoors due to the complication of installing septic tanks. Mail is delivered from Stronsay, once a month, by a fishing boat.
The Hastings County, a 116-metre Norwegian cargo vessel ran ashore on north west of Auskerry in 1926 during thick fog. The vessel broke in half and wreckage is spread over a wide area, with the engine on the beach.
The lighthouse lights the north entrance to the Stronsay Firth. It was built in 1866 by engineers David and Thomas Stevenson. It is attached to two flats; the lower one is used all year as a store and the top one is used mainly in summer.
1864 – Work began on building the Lighthouse.
1866 – Lighthouse completed. The lighthouse was occupied by 2 families until the 2nd World War when the Northern Lighthouse Board changed the manning to 3 keepers in about 1943.IMG_0332
1914 – 1918 – 1st World War Navy personnel stationed for signalling and Radar surveillance. They lived in huts in the field near the Lighthouse.
1926 – ‘Hastings County’ went ashore in fog. No lives lost- all the chips cargo was salvagedIMG_1625
1941 – Two bombs landed in Auskerry near the lighthouse.
1942 – Hotchkiss guns erected.IMG_1628
1939 – 1945 – Convoys of vessels passed by in the Stronsay Firth.
1943 – December 16 Donald Franko crash landed an Oxford Trainer on Auskerry in driving rain and no visibility.IMG_1626
1961 – Lighthouse automated – the first to be automated in Orkney and one of the first in Scotland.
Auskerry Lighthouse was built between 1864 and 1866 by pioneering lighthouse engineers David and Thomas Stevenson to light the north entrance to the Stronsay Firth. Attached to the lighthouse are two flat-roofed keepers’ flats; the lower one is used all year round as a store and the other is used occasionally in the summer.
To the south of the lighthouse, near the shoreline is a crater from one of two bombs dropped on the lighthouse in 1941. The other unexploded bomb has never been found. As a result of this bombing however, the lighthouse was supplied with two anti-aircraft Hotchkiss Guns, one to the south and the other to the North of the Lighthouse buildings, to be manned by the Keepers.
Initially, the lighthouse was lived in by two families until 1940 but was then turned into a rock station where the three keepers lived upstairs until it was made automatic in July 1961.
The Lighthouse is painted entirely white except for a band of ‘Oasis’ yellow beneath the balcony, and its ‘character’ is a white light flashing every twenty seconds to light the way for passing vessels.