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Flannan Isles Lighthouse

In 1900 three experienced lighthouse keepers disappeared from the Flannan Isles Lighthouse. For those who are unfamiliar with the case, or with geography of a distinctly Jockish flavour, relevant lighthouse was some 20 miles west of Lewis, Western Isles. The lighthouse itself was in good order with the only physical sign of distress being an overturned chair. The lighthouse journal told of strange events that took place over the final days. Normally strong, even combative, men who had worked as keepers for decades became sullen, one even wept constantly. No bodies were ever found. On the final recorded days no unusually bad storms were recorded for that region. Some geologists have speculated that the deaths had an incredibly dull cause. The isle on which the lighthouse is built has many geos, or deeply-cut gullies. Water, especially when seas are rough, can be forced up sweeping anyone near into the sea.

My opinion? Scotland is one of the most atmospheric places I’ve ever had the fortune of visiting. There’s something dark and brooding, a heaviness in the atmosphere that I’m yet to experience elsewhere. Perhaps a synthesis of their isolation and an unusually thick atmosphere led them to toss caution to the wind. There was severe damage to one side of the island so it’s likely they were taken by the sea.

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Categories: General
  1. January 10, 2017 at 7:57 am

    A riddle wrapped up in a ……etc. Could they have been poisoned by accident, tried to leave, failed…..?

  2. January 10, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Is the journal available anywhere, Christopher? It would make an interesting read.

  3. January 10, 2017 at 9:32 am

    JL, there’s a googleful (c) of stuff on the net. Even a book on the subject.

  4. January 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Release the Kraken!!!

  5. christinaosborne
    January 10, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    I lived in Aberdeen for two years in the 70s. One of the causes of the dark and broodiness I suspect is the inordinate use of alcohol followed by fighting in public. My, they seriously put it down, probably all got pissed and fell in the sea! Or murdered each other first.

  6. January 10, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Janus: They had no way to leave. If they were poisoned, their bodies would have been found. The damage on the isle indicates geos or freak waves hit. Still, it’s eerie. Even if there were few casualties the lack of any real information is haunting.

    JL: This link has excerpts from the lighthouse log: https://sjhstrangetales.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-flannan-isles-lighthouse-mystery/

    LW: Te he he.

    CO: Scotland is always broody even if no one is drunk. It can be a bright, blue day with hardly a cloud in the sky but there will still be shadows and darkness.

  7. christinaosborne
    January 10, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    In the 70s I worked for the Aberdeen Press and Journal. It was noticeable the amount of court cases brought for incest, especially from the Loch Ness area, in those days it was very remote out there. There appeared to be far more than either in Wales or England from casual observation. Either it was actually so or it was reported more often or the authorities were far more adept at winkling it out! I know not which. But obviously if you work on editorial you are familiar with the stories being printed. i also worked on the Western Mail, the Welsh Daily and the South Wales Echo which provided me with a direct comparison.

    I often wondered if the alcoholism, deviant sexual behaviour and general isolation made the country seem quite so dark. I have not been to Scotland since the 80s. I expect things are different now they have the internet and mobile phones etc. I would have thought that modern communications would have alleviated at least the isolation.

    I also note that some of the Indian tribes here suffer similar problems. But theirs is also down to social isolation too. They are not accepted by the ‘pale faces.’ Most on reservations are extremely physically isolated. There is the same quality of brooding darkness again.

    As a lawyer I would be interested in JM’s output on the subject.

  8. January 10, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    CO: One thing I’ve noticed is that alcoholism tends to be rifer in places that are gloomy and grey. Russia, the Nordic Countries, British Isles and Alaska have far more problems with it than, say, Italy, Mexico or Portugal. Colder regions are usually more isolated anyway. Sweden is larger than Italy but has under 10 million compared to Italy’s 60 million. Scotland is, especially outside the Central Belt, relatively sparsely populated and the wild terrain makes travel difficult. Many, many strange things happen in dark, isolated places.

    I’ve heard many delightful stories about British Columbia’s oubliette. The cities are dives with their motley collections of human detritus and escaped carnival freak show acts, but many rural areas are drug-ridden and have levels of depravity almost unimaginable to the civilised mind. I had the misfortune of meeting refugees from that region who were eager to leave because they couldn’t bare to see the spiral for another minute.

  9. christinaosborne
    January 10, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    I agree with you about BC. Being only 15 miles from the border and with the current arrangement of mountains, (long may they stay in place!) I only get Canadian radio on my old alarm/clock radio in the bedroom. Perforce I listen to to the CBC late night. Some of the stuff one hears is quite extraordinary. But what is really freaky is that they are so smugly happy with the status quo! Homelessness in Vancouver has reached epic proportions, generally through drug use. They think nothing of shipping them all off to Alberta for a fee if there is an international junket going on! Of course, they have to walk back! They provide free needle exchange venues but do not make any adequate provision for actually helping the homeless to any degree. To be fair BC gets more than its fair share of homeless from other parts because of the comparatively clement climate. This year they have been caught out by unseasonably cold weather that we are getting too. Corpses laying around the tourist spots are terribly untidy so they have made a bit more effort than usual.
    They have also had a fair few drug gang killings, generally spics over territory, but of course we must ‘just lurve out immigrants’ so that is pretty hushed up too. Vancouver airport might as well be in the far east, there are far more slants than round eyes by a long chalk. Truly quite shocking. I always use Vancouver as it is so much nearer us than Seattle. I am always very glad to get to the gate!
    I don’t blame people leaving there, property prices are totally out of control. Modest family houses in Vancouver proper are a couple of million apiece. No-one can afford them, everyone normal and white have moved out to the outer suburbs and satellite towns of the Fraser valley Or gone completely to the Okanagan. Whole companies and a University have relocated there, plainly stating that their employees could no longer afford to live in Vancouver and couldn’t tolerate the long distance commutes. The roads are inadequate for the amount of cars. Traffic jams of immense sizes to get under the Fraser River tunnels everyday.
    Central Vancouver is owned by Chinese as a place to park their ill gotten gains and left empty creating ghost town neighbourhoods. Shops unlet because there are no tenants in the apartments above! Finally the authorities have woken up to its a bad idea to allow foreign nationals to own empty property! Too bloody late by half! London of course is going the same way!

  10. January 11, 2017 at 2:24 am

    CO: Quite. Not that it’s much better south of the Canadian border. I’m utterly convinced that there’s nothing of any real interest north of Sacramento outside of Victoria and parts of Vancouver Island. Male-type-parent’s younger brother has lived in whatever’s south of British Columbia for some years now. I’m utterly terrified when I hear what passes as normal there and in the state south of it. Quite a few Californians move there due to the lower land prices only to regret it very quickly.

    In Denmark there are restrictions on non-Danes or non long-term residents of Denmark owning land outright. In years past Huns bought up many coastal properties in the Kingdom and were increasingly making it impossible for Danes to find housing. Naturally, building more and more houses to relieve pressure wasn’t feasible when most houses that had been purchased stood empty for most of the year. Similar things are happening in Australia and New Zealand in respect to the Chinese. London’s only saving grace is that the high population density makes it more difficult to put off changes.

  11. January 11, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Scots have often been termed ‘dour’ and maybe they have acquired this quality from their surroundings.

  12. January 11, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Janus: Scotland is a very broody, moody country. Then again, so are the Nordic countries which explains the passive-aggression and Nordic Noir.

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