The Lost Keepers of the Seven Hunters

The-isolated-island-of-Eilean-moor_bw_smlEighteen miles beyond the Outer Hebrides, on the northwest tip of Europe, lies a tiny archipelago officially called The Flannan Islands, after an obscure Irish saint (Flannán mac Toirrdelbaig) who built a chapel there in the 7th century AD. Local seafarers, however, have another name for these bits of rock poking from the cold Atlantic: the Seven Hunters, due to their talent for sending even worthy sailors to a watery grave. In an effort to make safer the passage around Cape Wrath, the Northern Lighthouse Board of Scotland finally completed a lighthouse on Eilean Mor, the largest and most northerly of the seven, in 1899. Finding men to man it was not an easy task. The Seven Hunters are among the bleakest, most forlorn places on earth and superstitious dread of them was so common and widespread that even the stolid shepherds from the Hebrides who regularly ferried their sheep there to graze refused to spend the night among the spirits and phantoms that supposedly called this place home. Eventually, three men were assigned to the post, and not without complaint. Less than a year into their tenancy, the lighthouse went dark and all three men disappeared forever. The circumstances surrounding their disappearance–a bad storm that ended with all three men still alive, a meal made but never eaten, foul weather gear left inside the locked lighthouse–continue to make it one of Scotland’s most enduring mysteries. Unusually emotional entries from the lighthouse logbook only thicken the shroud of fog around the incident. The last of these entries reads:  Storm ended, sea calm. God is over all.