Roman Pharos, Dover


Dover Castle and Pharos
c.1910
Publisher: Valentine.

Google Street View.

Dover Castle.

…within the walls of the medieval castle stands a much older building, dating from a time when Britain was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Around 2,000 years ago, in the early 2nd century AD, the Romans built a pharos, or lighthouse, here. This would have guided the ships of a Roman fleet into the harbour below. Not only is the Dover pharos the most complete standing Roman building in England, it’s also one of only three lighthouses to survive from the whole of the former Roman empire.
Google Arts & Culture

Seventy years after the Roman invasion in AD 43, construction of a fort began at the mouth of the river Dour. This was Dubris, a fort for the classis Britannica, a Roman fleet that patrolled the eastern Channel. Though building stopped suddenly, it began again around AD 130 and the fort was completed. The Romans built an octagonal tower-like lighthouse on Castle Hill around the same time [as the fort], with another on the opposite hill, the Western Heights. These lighthouses supported fire beacons to act as navigation lights for ships approaching the narrow river mouth, enabling them to find a quayside outside the fort. The fort at Dubris was demolished around AD 215 and a new one constructed around AD 270, which may have continued in use, along with the lighthouses, into the 5th century. The pharos was later reused for the church of St Mary in Castro as a chapel and bell tower, and can still be seen.
English Heritage


Roman pharos on the western heights of Dover (GB), inside view, 1893 (from Wikimedia Commons).

The Roman pharos or lighthouse at Dover was probably built in the first century A.D. A similar lighthouse was built on the Western Heights and at night guided Roman ships into the port of Dubris. The tower was octagonal outside and rectangular inside rising to a height of perhaps 80 feet (24m). It had eight storeys each set back 1 foot (0.3m) from the one below, which gave the whole structure the appearance of an extended telescope. Only the first four Roman storeys remain, the present topmost storey being a fifteenth century reconstruction. The present splayed shape of the pharos is a result of the severe weathering it suffers in exposed position and mediaeval refacing.
Roman Britain

AD 46. Built under the Emperor Claudius. This guided the Roman fleet round to the port of Richborough. In mediaeval times it was used as a belfry to the Church of St Mary Sub-Castro. 4 storeys, 3 being Roman and the top storey and remains of battlements mediaeval. An octagonal tower with originally vertical stepped walls rising in tiers set back each within the last, now almost smoothed. Rubble with a facing of green sandstone and tufa and levelled at an interval of 7 courses with a double course of brick set in hard pink mortar. Round-headed windows with a small recessed spy-hole inside them.
Historic England

Lighthouse, Ailsa Craig


Lighthouse, Ailsa Craig, Girvan
Posted 1921-22
Publisher: The Philco Publishing Company, London

Google Street View (approximate)

Ailsa Craig Lighthouse is located on Ailsa Craig, an island in the Firth of Clyde, just offshore from Girvan, South Ayrshire, Scotland. In 1881, petitions were received by the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses from Lloyds and the Scottish Shipmasters Association requesting the erection of two fog signals and a lighthouse on Ailsa Craig. The Board of Trade and Trinity House both agreed to the proposal and work commenced the following year. The light was first exhibited on the night of 15 June 1886, an oil burning light which remained in use until 24 January 1911, when it was converted to incandescent.

Until wireless telephone communications were established on Ailsa Craig in 1935, the lightkeepers and employees of Ailsa Craig Granites Ltd used to depend on pigeons for the conveyance of messages. A pigeon house was established at Girvan Green, where the town council established a parking place for cars and buses in 1935. The pigeons were provided by the Lighthouse Boatman at that time, who received an annual payment of £4.00. When a doctor or supplies were required urgently in stormy weather when it was impossible to have messages taken by carrier pigeon, a system of signals by fire was used. One fire on the castle path showing the Lighthouse to the North indicated “bring doctor for Lighthouse”; two fires on the castle path (one at the same place as the Lighthouse fire, and the other 20-30 yards above it), meant “bring doctor for Quarry Company”; one fire at the north end of the Castle Flat showing the Lighthouse to the South indicated the provisions were required.
Northern Lighthouse Board