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Brief History of Lighthouses

The First Lighthouse Pharos, in Alexandria, Egypt

History of lighthouses…since ancient times.

In ancient times, men built fires on hilltops as a marker to guide ships into port. But the distance the fire was visible at sea was limited by the height of where the fire was built. They started to understand that the higher the fire, the better visibility it offered, so they began to build platforms to raise the fire higher.

The Very First Lighthouse In Existence

The Pharos Lighthouse, built by the Greeks in Alexandria, Egypt ( 3rd Century BC) is believed to have been the first lighthouse to be built and to have reached from 390 to 450 feet in height. Only written descriptions and drawings remain to indicate what it looked like because a powerful earthquake several centuries after it was built, caused its total de

The modern era of lighthouses begins…

The modern era of lighthouse construction began with the building of Eddystone Lighthouse by Henry Winstanley in 1695 and the Bell Rock Lighthouse in Scotland by Robert Stevenson in 1810.

The Eddystone Lighthouse is located on the Eddystone Rocks, southwest of Rame Head, United Kingdom. This was an octagonal wooden structure that survived its first winter, but was in need of repair. It was eventually renovated to become a twelve-sided structure with a stone-clad exterior. This lasted until the Great Storm of 1703 eradicated nearly all trace of the lighthouse. Its builder, Henry Winstanley, was completing additions to the structure at the time, and no trace was ever found of him. The current lighthouse on the Eddystone Rocks is believed to be either the fourth or fifth structure built there.





Lighthouses Around The World

Modern lighthouses around the world are all automated, with the exception of a few. America’s only remaining non-automated lighthouse, the Boston Light in Massachusetts, was automated in 1998, but does have a crew of people on hand to lead tours and provide information for tourists.



The Bell Rock Lighthouse

The world’s oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse is the Bell Rock Lighthouse, built by Robert Stevenson between 1807 and 1810, on Bell Rock in the North Sea, just off the coast of Angus, Scotland. The masonry work on which the lighthouse stands was of such quality that it has not had to be replaced or refurbished in over 200 years. Only the lamps and reflectors have been replaced, and the light has been automated since 1988.



Oldest Surviving Sea-washed Lighthouse, Bell Rock Lighthouse

Oldest Surviving Sea-washed Lighthouse, Bell Rock Lighthouse

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