A memorial has been unveiled in memory of three lighthouse keepers who vanished without trace from the island of Eilean Mor in the Outer Hebrides in 1900.
Arbroath lighthouse keeper James Ducat, a 43-year-old with more than 20 years’ experience in lighthouse keeping, had arrived on the deserted island to man the lighthouse with two other men, Thomas Marshall and Donald McArthur.
When off duty the keepers lived with their families in Cnoc Mòr in Breasclete where the local community commissioned the memorial.
Designer James Crawford created a bronze wave sweeping over a sandstone lighthouse sitting on a Lewisian gneiss boulder.
An exhibition based on the events is open in Breasclete Community Centre.
Christina Maclean, a cousin of Donald Macarthur, unveiled the memorial located by Tigh na Mara on the village shoreline where the lighthouse ship would transport the keepers to the island.
Mrs Maclean said: “I think people now accept it was an act of providence.
“The sea at the Flannans is unbelievably rough and it would have been bad weather at the root of the incident.”
Hollywood A-lister Gerard Butler will portray Ducat in a movie about the tragedy called Keepers which is out later this year.
Butler sported a shaggy beard, a flat cap, cable-knit jumper and thick coat while filming his role as Arbroath lighthouse keeper Ducat who was a 43-year-old with more than 20 years’ experience in lighthouse keeping.
He had arrived on the deserted island to man the lighthouse with Thomas Marshall and Donald McArthur.
Just a few weeks into their stint, on December 15, a passing steamer on passage from Philadelphia to Leith noticed the light was not working, which it reported three days later when it docked in Oban.
A relief vessel, the Hesperus, carrying supplies and a relief lighthouse keeper Joseph Moore, had been due to arrive on Eilean Mor on December 20 but had been delayed until Boxing Day due to rough seas and dangerous weather.
Mr Moore rowed to shore and found the lighthouse in complete darkness.
Inside the beds were unmade and the clock had stopped.
A chair had been overturned and a pair of oilskins was still on its hook, indicating that one of the three men had gone outside without dressing for the wild winter weather.
There was no sign of Ducat or the other men.
In the days after the discovery of the abandoned lighthouse, the crew of the Hesperus made thorough searches of the island, hoping to find a clue.
At one of the harbours they discovered considerable damage, with part of an iron rail wrenched out of the concrete and a rock estimated to weigh a ton dislodged.
Turf on top of a 200ft cliff had been ripped away from the edge but there was no sign of any of the men.
The lighthouse log was kept up to date until December 15.
The final entry read: ‘Storm ended, sea calm. God is over all’.