Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2018

Life and Death on Little Ross

The story of an island, a lighthouse and its keepers

By David R. Collin


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Scotland’s Little Ross Island Lighthouse was unknown to most people until 1960 when a lighthouse keeper’s murder brought it widespread notoriety.

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Fifteen year-old David R. Collin was at the island on the day of the murder and was a witness in the High Court Trial that followed. Over the ensuing years, he has repeatedly been asked to tell his story. But, apparently, he felt that the story should only be told if it were included in a book about all the dedicated keepers who kept the light for 117 years and whose stories had been largely forgotten. In doing so, he wrote the book Life and Death on Little Ross – The story of an island, a lighthouse and its keepers.

David R. Collin has brought to life the entire history of the island, its lighthouse, and its people who lived and worked there, including extracts from a detailed diary that has survived from World War I. The story in this book also features the island’s earliest inhabitants, the ships and crews that came to grief, the case made by concerned local people for the lighthouse to be built, the political wrangling that delayed its approval for many years, the lighthouse design, and the eventual construction of the buildings. Although the book has been highly praised by organizations such as History Scotland and Undiscovered Scotland as “a masterclass in original maritime research,” it may, perhaps, have more detailed facts than some readers are prepared to follow or have the patience to read.

Although the process of the automation of the lighthouse began shortly after the murder of one lighthouse keeper by another keeper, the story of the lighthouse itself does not end there. The story of the later restoration of the structures is really a story unto itself as is detailed in this soft cover, 231 page book that includes color and black & white historic images not found anywhere else.

Life and Death on Little Ross by David R. Collin is available to order directly from the publisher at www.whittlespublishing.com.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2018 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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