Review : ‘Where Light in Darkness Lies: The story of the lighthouse’ by V. della Dora, Reaktion,

By Faye Hammill, published June 2023


am writing this review on a train going down the east coast of Scotland. The sun is beginning to rise and I have just managed to see the Bell Rock Lighthouse. The world’s oldest sea-washed lighthouse, Bell Rock has been operating since 1811. It stands on a dangerous reef that is submerged by every tide to a depth of 12 feet, and its construction by the pioneering lighthouse builder Robert Stevenson was one of the finest achievements of early nineteenth-century engineering. I would never have thought of looking for the lighthouse if it was not for Veronica della Dora’s fascinating book. She offers a lucid account of the design and construction of the Bell Rock, together with an intriguing analysis of its representation in a painting by J. M. W. Turner and a poem by Robert Southey. Rather bafflingly, though, she situates it ‘southwest of Arbroath’ (p. 74). Staring into the semi-darkness in the correct direction (south-east) as we travelled from Montrose towards Arbroath, I finally spotted the flashing signal and then began to make out the tower in the far distance…

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Subjects include: Lifesaving & Coastguard | Science & Exploration

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