The disappearance of the Eilean Mor Lighthouse Keepers is one of the most bizarre mysteries of all time. On the boxing day of 1900, HMS Hesperus made her way to the Flannan Isles, a rocky island formation off the coast of Scotland.
Of the Flannan Isles, Eilean Mor was the most renowned of them, for she boasted a brand-new lighthouse. The locals of Scotland were already familiar with Eilean Mor because even before the advent of the lighthouse, despite the rocky shores and cliffs, the island provided a lush grazing field for cattle like no other.
The island was not a recent discovery, either. It first came to mainstream consideration after Saint Flannan had built a chapel on it. However, despite the lush landscape, there was something dark lurking around.
Even as early as the 1500s, the locals used to be frightened of the island, as they believed spirits of lost sailors haunted the jiggered rocks after nightfall. However, despite these hauntings, Eilean Mor’s lighthouse would become the most dreaded one for a completely different case. A case that remains unsolved to this day.
Cold Nights and Rogue Waves
As HMS Hesperus docked near the lighthouse, red flags were already popping up. Despite being the only manned lighthouse in the vicinity, no ensigns were flying on the masts, no crates were on the shores, waiting to be restocked, and, most worrying, no Lightkeepers had arrived to welcome them, as was customary.
Though the ship’s crew was already unnerved, the relief keeper on board, Joseph Moore, had expected trouble.
The light had not been manned for more than a week.
The first report of something unnatural going on at the lighthouse was reported on December 15th, 1900, by the steamer Archtor, which was en route from Philadelphia to Leith. As the ship passed the Flannan Isles, the crew reported that the new lighthouse did not have her light in operation. Despite the poor weather, which was in direct violation of the protocol.
Jim Harvie, the captain of Hesperus, tried to get the lightkeepers’ attention by blowing the ship’s horn, but there was no acknowledgment from the island. Soon, Moore ventured out alone on a small boat as the seagulls squalled over the seemingly abandoned lighthouse.
Upon getting to the lighthouse, Moore found the compound in disorder, the main door closed, and the beds unmade. Unnervingly, all the clocks had stopped, too. He rushed back to Hesperus and informed the captain, who sent two of his men with Moore.
The three returned to the lighthouse and were met with even stranger sights: the lamps had been cleaned and refilled but were lying on the table, discarded. A lone oilskin was also on the hook, suggesting that one of the lightkeepers had ventured out without them.
And in the kitchen, a half-eaten dinner was on the table, suggesting that the lightkeepers had left in a hurry. However, the most unsettling of all was the log entries found on the official log.
For example, on the night of December 12th, Thomas Marshall, the second assistant in charge of the lighthouse, wrote of severe winds, the likes of which I have never seen before in twenty years. He also noted that James Ducat, the Principal Keeper of Eilean, had been very quiet and that the third assistant, William McArthur, a hardened seaman, was found crying.
Log entries from December 13th further state that the storm was still raging and the men were huddled together, praying. The last of these ominous entries is on December 15th, which reads, the storm ended, sea calm. God is over all.
The three reported the findings to the captain, who telegraphed the Northern Lighthouse Board, under which the lighthouse was operational. The telegraph reads: A dreadful accident has happened at the Flannans.
The three keepers, Ducat, Marshall, and the Occasional, have disappeared from the island… the clocks were stopped, and other signs indicated that the accident must have happened about a week ago. Poor fellows must have been blown over the cliffs or drowned trying to secure a crane.
Moore and three other seamen volunteered to stay back, despite being shaken to the core. After all, the lighthouse needed to be functional. Until an investigating team from the mainland arrived on December 29th, 1900, the men searched every accessible inch of the island.
Still, the three lightkeepers of Eilean Mor were never seen again.
Possible Explanations and Theories on the Mystery of Eilean Mor
When the investigating team from Northern Lighthouse Board arrived, they made some interesting findings. Despite the East Landing being in pretty good shape, the West Landing provided considerable evidence of damage caused by recent storms.
A box held 33 meters above sea level had been broken, and its contents were strewn across the rocks. Iron railings over the platform were bent over, the iron railway by the path was wrenched out of its concrete, and a rock weighing more than a ton had fallen off the cliff.
And on top of the cliff, a turf placed at 60 meters had been completely ripped off. All these pointed fingers at a single culprit: rogue waves.
The official investigation soon wrapped up, stating that the men were swept overboard by rogue waves after inadvertently trying to secure a crane in bad weather. However, some glaring details strike out, not quite fitting in.
The men were experienced seamen, so what had lured them out of the safety of the lighthouse in a storm? Why were they crying and praying? But the most terrifying part of all, the storm mentioned in the log, never took place. The storm didn’t hit the island until December 17th; by all accounts, the sea was remarkably calm during the week leading to December 15th.
Over the decades, many theories have been put forward, with locals and lightkeepers stating that they have seen the men in the waves and that a large Sea Serpent frequented the island. Other sailors speculate that the crew of a phantom boat took the three missing Lightkeepers.
At the same time, some also suggest that McArthur, who had been stationed on the island for quite a while, went insane and killed his companions before jumping into the sea. Whatever the theories are, what happened on Eilean Mor that fateful day remains unsolved.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?