Cultural history

The story of St Abb’s Head stretches back to prehistoric times. Traces of an Iron Age fort hint at the long history of human settlement here, as do the remains of an 11th-century kirk and burial ground dedicated to Aebbe, a 7th-century Northumbrian princess. Aebbe, after whom the headland and village are named, was sainted for spreading Christianity through this previously pagan land.

More recently, a Stevenson-designed lighthouse was built in 1862. Originally powered by coal and oil, it was the first lighthouse in Scotland to have a fog horn (now silent). The lighthouse was manned by three full-time keepers until it became automated in 1994.

In the later years of the 19th-century, St Abb’s Head was part of a larger estate owned by the Usher family who lived in Northfield House, the gothic building overlooking the village. They used the estate for their leisure activities. They dammed the naturally boggy area in the valley behind the cliffs to form the Mire Loch, which they stocked for their own private fishery, and they constructed a 9-hole golf course.