The Flannan Island Mystery: When Three Lighthouse Keepers Disappeared Forever
Flannan Islands: a lighthouse from the sea to the south.
On December 15, 1900, lighthouse keepers James Ducat, Thomas Marshall, and Donald MacArthur marked the last entries on the Flannan Isle lighthouse board. Shortly thereafter, they disappeared and were never seen again.
More than 100 years later, the events of the disappearance are still a mystery, and interest in the small Scottish island of Eileen More has never waned. Theories about the disappearance have abounded, and everyone from sea monsters to ghost ships has been blamed for the disaster. In 2019, a movie based on the story “The Disappearance” was released.
So what was the mystery of Flannan Island and what happened to the three lighthouse keepers over a century ago?
A passing ship first noticed that something was wrong
The first record of something being wrong in the Flannan Islands was made on December 15, 1900, when the steamer Archthorne noticed that the lighthouse in the Flannan Islands was not lit.
When the ship docked at Leith, Scotland, in December 1900, the observation was reported to the Northern Lighthouse Board .
A lighthouse aid ship called the Hesperus attempted to reach the island on December 20, but failed because of bad weather. It eventually reached the island around noon on December 26. The ship’s captain, Jim Harvey, blew his horn and lit a flare, hoping to warn the lighthouse keepers. There was no response.
The house was abandoned.
This is one of the two stairs leading from the wharf to the lighthouse.
Joseph Moore took a boat alone to the island. He found the entrance gate and the main door of the complex closed. Climbing the 160 steps of the lighthouse, he found the beds unmade, the clock on the kitchen wall stopped, the table set for food that remained uneaten, and a chair overturned. The only sign of life was a canary in a cage in the kitchen.
Moore returned to the crew of the Hesperus with grim news. Captain Harvey sent two more sailors ashore for a closer inspection. They found that the lamps had been cleaned and refueled, and they also found a set of clapboards, suggesting that one of the keepers had left the lighthouse without them.
The log book was in order, with bad weather conditions recorded, and records of wind speed at 9 a.m. Dec. 15 had been made on slate and ready to be entered into the log book.
The search team searched every corner of Eileen More for clues as to the fate of these men. However, the sign was still missing.
An investigation was launched
The investigation was launched Dec. 29 by Robert Muirhead, superintendent of the North Lighthouse Council . Muirhead had initially recruited all three and knew them well.
He examined the clothing at the lighthouse and concluded that Marshall and Ducat had gone down to the west landing to pick up supplies and equipment there, but had been carried away by a violent storm. He then surmised that MacArthur, who was dressed only in a shirt and not a miter, had followed them and died in the same way.
Lighthouse at Eileen Moor in 1912, just 12 years after the mysterious disappearances.
Their disappearance was officially recorded as an accident due to bad weather, and the lighthouse’s reputation was tarnished long afterward.
But there were other speculations about the disappearances
Bodies were never found, and the national and international press went crazy. Bizarre and often extreme theories included a sea serpent taking people away, foreign spies kidnapping them, or a ghost ship known as the “Ghost of the Second Hunters” capturing and killing the trio. It was also suspected that they had organized a ship to smuggle them so they could all start a new life.
The suspicion fell on MacArthur, who had a reputation as a hot-tempered and violent man. It is speculated that the three men may have gotten into a fight on the west landing, causing all three to fall to their deaths from the rocks. It has also been speculated that MacArthur killed the other two, then threw their bodies into the sea before committing suicide.
The lighthouse at Eileen Moor in the Flannan Islands
There were also reports that the logs had strange notes in Marshall’s hand saying that the weather was the worst it had been in 20 years.
Dukat was very quiet, MacArthur was crying and that all three men were praying. It is reported that the last log entry was made on December 15 and read: “The storm is over, the sea is calm. God is above all.” Later investigation revealed that no such entries were ever made and were probably falsified to make the story even more sensational.
Almost certainly the truth about the Flannan Lighthouse mystery will never be revealed, and today it remains one of the most intriguing moments in the archives of Scottish maritime history.
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Eileen Mawr Lighthouse
A small lighthouse was built on Eileen Mawr and an attendant of 3 was landed, but what became of them?
Some events will forever remain a mystery, as what happened seems to be an absolute mystery. Sometimes it happens that after finding out the truth, it’s hard to believe in what happened, it’s so unbelievable. If anyone knows the truth, he prefers silence, for obvious reasons.
Lighthouses help sailors to avoid disaster, but sometimes, it is not only ships that are in danger.
At the beginning of the last century, on the unremarkable island of Eileen Moor, where the lighthouse is located, a strange incident occurred.
It should be noted that the area where Eileen Mawr is very wild and dangerous. They told many eerie, mystical stories of what happened in those places. It was said that the ghosts who lived in that area did not tolerate outsiders.
In those days, the maintenance of any lighthouse required the constant presence of personnel.
In fact, the people who worked in the position of “lighthouse attendant” lived with them, as lights had to be lit on the lighthouse every evening to indicate potential danger to passing ships.
The first three lighthouse workers and the fourth from the left are the keeper.
Three men were sent to the Eileen Mawr Lighthouse to do such useful work for navigation. After a while, reports began to come in that the lighthouse on the island was not working. It seemed strange, because the attendants were professionals in their craft – people of responsibility and experience.
The equipment of the lighthouse was in good working order and consumables were delivered in sufficient quantity, even with stock. Everything we needed was regularly delivered to the island.
Panoramic view towards the lighthouse
The chief keeper, who was responsible for the lighthouses in the area, was sent to the lighthouse to find out the reasons, but bad weather delayed the rescue vessel. When weather conditions allowed to put to sea, the expedition immediately set out for the island. Approaching the shore, the crew was immediately alerted to the fact that there were no lights on land and no attendants anywhere to be seen.
A signal was given from the vessel, but no one came out to meet them. Once ashore, the team rushed to examine the keepers’ dwelling and the lighthouse itself, but there was not a soul anywhere. There was nothing unusual in the house, everything was in its place and everything was in order. The impression was that the people had gone out for some time and would soon return. The territory of the island is not large, so the search did not present any difficulties, but it did not bring the expected results – three people, simply, disappeared without a trace.
Without finding any facts to shed light on the incident, the salvage ship returned to the mainland. The crew returned incomplete. The chief caretaker remained on the island because the lighthouse had to perform its useful functions, and he was the only expert who could ensure the proper operation of the lighthouse.
For about ten years, the keeper worked on the island. All that time, his hope of finding the cause of the tragedy that had occurred in the lighthouse had not left him.
In the mysterious disappearance of people, there are some unusual facts that the chief caretaker discovered.
Strange entries were made in the logbook kept by the lighthouse workers. In particular, according to what was written in the hand of one of the keepers, there was a hurricane and a storm the night they disappeared. Although, during that day, there were no signs of violent elements in the area.
Later, several people were interested in the incident at the lighthouse, they noticed some more points. If you carefully read the logbook, then you can conclude that the attendants felt some kind of danger, because their mental state clearly speaks about it.
It is written that on one day, one of them was crying and the other two were praying.
Further, there are several records of this kind. This behavior by three sane adults seems strange. In all likelihood, the ministers felt threatened, only from where it came, they could not understand.
The chief caretaker returned to the mainland, but said little about his years on the lighthouse. It is supposed that he found out some details of the tragedy, but the circumstances of the incident may have seemed so improbable that the caretaker preferred not to talk about it. The reason for his silence probably need not be explained.