Groves-Raines Architects

The Isle of May Light Beacon


The Isle of May Light Beacon is a Scheduled Ancient Monument located on the Isle of May in the middle of the Firth of Forth. Dating from circa 1636, it is the earliest purpose-built lighthouse in Scotland and thought to be one of the oldest extant structures in the world.

Over the years the building fell out of use and traditional repair materials were substituted for a more economical short-term solution, this combined with a reduced available workforce resulted in the repair and maintenance being increasingly compromised.

Following increasing concerns over the condition of the building, Groves-Raines Architects were appointed to carry out a detailed survey of the building and make recommendations for its conservation and repair. Scheduled Ancient Monument consent was granted and through collaboration with both Historic Environment Scotland and a team of specialist conservators a schedule of works was delivered securing the longer-term future of the building.

Weather and tidal conditions often imposed logistical challenges, as well as the limitations placed on the times of year in which construction works could take place due to the Forth Islands being a Special Protected Area. The overall works included masonry repairs, re-harling, the application of limewash, replacement of defective joinery and the careful conservation of the armorial panel above the entrance door.

This project required an informed and collaborative approach, involving several different stakeholders with often conflicting priorities. Thorough research and a meticulous approach to pre-planning and phasing of the works was essential, as well as ensuring that sufficient on-site quality control was maintained.

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