Friday, 7 December 2012

Wonder of the Modern World

The Bell Rock Lighthouse is about 200 years old, depending on your choice of start date, an outstanding piece of engineering overseen by Messrs Stevenson and Rennie, the former of course the grandfather of RLS. The light has an interesting history and its own website,

It's only appropriate in the modern world that she should have her own tartan too and today the Commissioners of Northern Lights have announced that they are adopting as their official tartan The Bell Rock 200th Anniversary, designed by the talented Steven Sim of Arbroath.

Until talking to Steven recently I hadn't understood just how intellectual tartan design actually is, with the patterns full of references. Here in his own words are some of the meanings buried in this one.
"The tartan design reflects the flashing lights of the lighthouse: white for the primary, white light, and red for the secondary, red light (when first put into operation the lighthouse flashed an alternating white and red light). The muted dark blue and black shades represent the treacherous dark North Sea at night. Solid black commemorates the 1000s of lives lost on Inchcape Rock as well as the men who died during the construction of the lighthouse. The geometry of the tartan creates two different impressions of the lighthouse on the horizon: when flashing white and when flashing red. When flashing white, 90 threads between the black and white represent the 90 courses of stone blocks that make up the tower. When flashing red, the lighthouse is represented at a greater distance, standing on the horizon." 
Over the years the finest artists have been attracted like moths to the Light. Methinks the skipper of the yacht in Mr Turner's effort at the top of this post should have been down to a trysail well before the storm got to this stage. There's also a wonderful image of the Light, but without the accompanying vessel, done by Scotland's very own Jolomo, which the Commissioners will even supply as a Christmas card.

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The Wherrymen

The Wherrymen
Two old friends on the water