Many may be familiar with the works of the Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, but few outside Scotland may be aware of his grandfather, also named Robert. Robert Stevenson the senior was a prominent architect and designer of lighthouses up and down the coasts of Scotland.
In his lifetime, he was responsible for the establishment of over a dozen lighthouses. He served as the engineer of the Northern Lighthouse Board for nearly five decades. In 2016, he was inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.
His most well-known achievement was the design and creation of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, which still stands today. After this, he attempted to build a stone buoy that would act as a safety beacon moored in the Firth of Forth. By Stevenson’s estimations, this area had claimed around 16 ships in under 10 years. This location was known as the North Carr, which proved problematic as the rocks used for the construction of the base were only visible during low tide.
It would take five years to manufacture the stone base, but all was for not, as the buoy was lost in a storm. However, the outlines of the cuttings for the base are still visible when the tide is out. Also located nearby, is an informational placard with Stevenson’s diagrams explaining his concept.
Know Before You Go
Check local tide timetables for low tide. As the road to the site is narrow, it is advised to park at the Crail Golfing Society carpark. Then walk a few yards, along a gravel path, to the current coastguard station.