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The University of Aberdeen has purchased the Cromarty Lighthouse to support its marine research and education work in the Moray Firth.
Twenty years ago, the University leased the Keeper’s cottage – adjacent to the lighthouse – and established the Lighthouse Field Station to provide a base for researchers to study seals, dolphins and seabirds around the north of Scotland.
Seven years ago the University expanded the Field Station by renovating the Old Buoy Store, providing new teaching and training accommodation. Since then, Aberdeen based undergraduate and postgraduate students have carried out project work in the Moray Firth each summer.
The Lighthouse and Keepers’ cottage were built by Alan Stevenson -the uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson - and the light was first lit in 1846 using sperm whale oil. The lighthouse became automatic in 1985, but the Northern Lighthouse Board withdrew it from service in 2006.
Professor Paul Thompson, Chair in Zoology at the University of Aberdeen, has directed research at the Lighthouse Field Station since it was opened in 1990. He said: “It was sad to see the light turned off after so many years, but purchasing the lighthouse has offered us a unique opportunity to use this iconic building to expand our work.”
Angus Donaldson, Director of the University’s Estates, said: “We were delighted to receive such widespread community support when we first considered the purchase. It may appear a slightly unusual step for a University to be considering buying a Lighthouse but for a number of reasons it made perfect sense, so we were encouraged that others agreed this would be an appropriate use for such an historic building”.
Professor Thompson added: “A lighthouse in the middle of the town is a clear reminder of Cromarty’s maritime heritage. We now look forward to exploring how we can best use the building to maintain that link, and provide new opportunities for locals and visitors to find out more about Scotland’s marine environment.”