Seen across the estuary by most when they visit the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, the Old Law Beacons stand at the tip of a sandy spit on the south side of the entrance to Holy Island Harbour. Vessels entering the harbour lined up the two beacons on a bearing of 260° (just south of due west) before turning sharply northward as they approached the tip of the spit.
The beacons were constructed as a day range and no provision was made for lighting them, probably because it was considered too dangerous to enter the harbour at night. It appears that the towers were built in 1829. Although the Trinity House web site dates them to 1859, Tony Denton, in Lighthouses of England and Wales: A Complete Guide, writes that they were designed for Trinity House by John Dobson, a Newcastle architect, and built between 1820 and 1840. Glenn Bailey discovered this notice in the Newcastle Courant of 12 December 1829:
THE Corporation of the Trinity House of this Town has built Two Beacons Upon the Old Law, as LEADING MARKS into HOLY ISLAND HARBOUR, and the old Wooden Beacons are taken down.
(Bailey also found an article in the Caledonian Mercury of 24 August 1799 announcing the original wooden beacons.)
The Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals does not show any light on either beacon prior to the 1993 edition, when a light was listed on the East Beacon. However, it is possible that an unofficial light was displayed for some time before this date. In 1995 Trinity House assumed responsibility for the operation of the light and installed new equipment.
The solar-powered directional light shows the white "in-channel" light on a bearing of 264°, indicating a small change in the direction of the approach channel. The light is mounted low on the opposite side of the tower, about 7 m (23 ft) above ground level and 9 m (30 ft) above mean high water.
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