Ornsay is a small tidal island to the east of the Sleat peninsula on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.

Gaelic nameEilean Iarmain
Norse nameÖrfirirsey
Meaning of name"Ebb (i.e. tidal) island", from Norse
Ornsay shown relative to Skye
OS grid referenceNG709125
Coordinates57.15°N 5.79°W / 57.15; -5.79
Physical geography
Island groupInner Hebrides
Areac. 35 ha
Highest elevation46 m
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Council areaHighland
Ornsay Lighthouse
Eilean Iarmain
Ornsay Lighthouse
Inner Hebrides
United Kingdom
Coordinates57.143434°N 5.781037°W / 57.143434; -5.781037
Year first constructed1857
Constructionmasonry tower
Tower shapecylindrical tower with balcony and lantern
Markings / patternwhite tower, black lantern, ochre trim
Tower height19 metres (62 ft)
Focal height18 metres (59 ft)
Current lens300mm Acrylic lens with a 250 watt tungsten lamp
Light sourcemains power
Range18 nautical miles (33 km; 21 mi)
CharacteristicOc W 8s.
Admiralty numberA3944
NGA number3800
ARLHS numberSCO-161
Managing agentNorthern Lighthouse Board[5][6]


The island provides good shelter to a natural harbour which is overlooked by the village of Isleornsay. The "Ornsay" lighthouse stands on the neighbouring islet, Eilean Sionnach.[7] After the lighthouse was automated, Eilean Sionnach Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage became privately owned and is now let as holiday accommodation.


The lighthouse was built in 1857 by Thomas and David Stevenson. It is a masonry tower with a gallery, lantern and keeper's house. The apparatus entered service on 10 November 1857. The lens system was improved in order to show the light strength according to the distance to be shown. The lighthouse is equipped with a fourteen day battery backup to keep the emergency light working. It was modernized in 1988 when mains power was installed. The lighthouse emits a white occulting light every 8 seconds and was automated in 1962.[8]

See also


  1. 2001 UK Census per List of islands of Scotland
  2. Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
  3. Ordnance Survey
  4. Iain Mac an Tailleir. "Placenames" (PDF). Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  5. Ornsay (Isleornsay, Eilean Iarmain) The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 20 May 2016
  6. Ornsay Northern Lighthouse Board. Retrieved 20 May 2016
  7. "Overview of Isleornsay". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  8. Ornsay Northern Lighthouse Board. Retrieved 20 May 2016

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