Section Index
Bicentennial - 2011
Visiting the Rock
Underwater Life
at the Bell Rock

"Inchcape Rock" by Robert Southey
Light-keeper's Duties "1823"
The Bell Rock Prayer
Sir Joseph Banks and Mutiny on the Bounty
Sir Walter Scott's visit, the "Pharos Loquitur"
"The Year without a Summer"
"Death of HMS Argyll"
Pharos Experience
Preparing for Automation
Life in the Bell Rock
Lighthouse (1865)

A Keeper's Account
'"A Quiet Night In"

A Keeper's Account
"Outdoor 'Excursions'"

North Carr Lightships
Lighthouses of the Forth
The Bell Rock Tartan

Sir Walter Scott visits the Bell Rock

". . . to Nova Zembla and the Lord knows where"

In the summer of 1814, Walter Scott (then aged 43) embarked on a six-week voyage round Scotland - from Edinburgh to Glasgow via the Northern Isles and the Hebrides - in the company of the Commissioners of the Northern Lights and their "Surveyor-Viceroy" Robert Stevenson.

On the voyage Scott kept a Journal, first published in 1982, and curiously titled "Northern Lights or a Voyage in the Lighthouse Yacht to Nova Zembla and the Lord where in the summer of 1814".

Early, on the morning of the 30th July, he was awakened at 6am by the ship's steward to visit the Bell Rock. He afterwards noted in his diary: “Its dimensions are well known; but no description can give the idea of this slight, solitary, round tower, trembling amid the billows, and fifteen miles from Arbroath, the nearest shore. The fitting up within is not only handsome, but elegant. All work of wood (almost) is wainscot; all hammer-work brass; in short, exquisitely fitted up.”

That same morning Scott had breakfast "in the parlour" and was then asked to sign the Visitor's Book, where he penned his famous "Pharos Loquitur". By 9am they were off again, this time to Aberbrothock "vulgarly called Arbroath", a town with which he was not unfamiliar . . . it was this third visit. He was glad to be back on land again - everyone suffering from seasickness. "God grant this occur seldom!"

As a direct result of Sir Walter's lighthouse tour, it was Capt. Taylor who undertook the routine voyage to the Western Lights that year. Stevenson instructs him on that occasion to return via the Forth and Clyde canal for quick access to the East.

Pharos Loquitur

The Pharos Loquitur written by Scott on his visit to the Bell Rock

Far in the bosom of the deep
O'er these wild shelves my watch I keep
A ruddy gem of changeful light
Bound on the dusky brow of Night
The Seaman bids my lustre hail
And scorns to strike his timorous sail

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