image smeaton, j_narrative of edystone lighthouse_1791_pl9
Image number: RS.10380
Credit: © The Royal Society
Looking for a special gift? Buy a print of this image.

Smeaton’s Lighthouse on the Eddystone Rocks




Edward Rooker (1702-1774, British), Engraver

Object type

Library reference





height (print): 500mm
width (print): 350mm


Content object


Depiction of a section of the third lighthouse built upon the Eddystone Rocks near Plymouth.

The third lighthouse was built following the destruction of earlier versions designed by Henry Winstanley (1644-1703), and John Rudyard (or Rudyerd; 1650- ca.1718). The Royal Society recommended the civil engineer John Smeaton (1724-1792) for the job; his lighthouse was completed in 1759.

Plate 9 of A narrative of the building and a description of the construction of the Edystone lighthouse with stone, by John Smeaton (London, 1791). The Royal Society’s copy was donated by the author on 20 January 1791.

The plate is inscribed: ‘SECTION of the EDYSTONE LIGHTHOUSE upon the E & W Line as relative to No 8. on Supposition of its being LOW WATER of a SPRING TIDE.’

Includes scale: 1 inch = 6 feet

Object history

Smeaton’s lighthouse was modelled on the shape of an oak tree, and employed several novel engineering techniques. It remained in use until 1877, and was then re-erected on Plymouth Hoe, where it still stands as a tourist attraction. It can be seen in the background in the Royal Society’s two portraits of John Smeaton.

Associated place

<The World>
   > Europe
      > United Kingdom