Time- December 1900

Location- United Kingdom, Scotland, Flannan Isles

The Flannan Isles are a small group of rocky islands, located off the coast of Scotland. They are also named as the Seven Hunters but the reason they are called The Flannan Isles is in dedication to the Saint Flannan. The island that we look at in this tale is called Eilean Mor, a very rocky isle with cliff faces and a grassy hilltop that has a lighthouse at the top, it is called the Flannan Isles lighthouse, opened in 1899.

This lighthouse played scene to one of the biggest mysteries in British History. One that still can not be explained to this day, although their are many theories on what happened. We are going to look into the disappearances of three men who mysteriously vanished without a single trace, whilst being on duty on the island. But before we get into the theories and clues left behind and try to come to a conclusion, we must learn how all of this started, who were these men?

Here we have Donald MacArthur, Thomas Marshall and James Ducat. The 4th man is Robert Muirhead
  • James Ducat
  • Thomas Marshall
  • Donald MacArthur

These are the three men in question, left on the island by the superintendent of the Lighthouses, Robert Muirhead who after an inspection to make sure everything was working, left the three men to get on with there work as he returned to the mainland. However, before he left, he spoke to Ducat to inform him of heavy mist in the area, this will make the island very difficult to spot from the mainland and is a major role in all of the mystery surrounding this story. Muirhead shook the mens hands and left the island how would he have known that he was to be the last man to ever seem them alive.

You see back then, the only way to see the island from the mainland was by a telescope. If there was any sort of danger, the men could signal to the mainland and help would be sent, however with the heavy mist about, the island was only visible on a couple of days, the first being the day Muirhead left the men on the island, the next wouldn’t be for five days, the 12th which is quite a gap of time, a lot can happen in five days which in this case, apparently did. We go to the 15th of December, a ship was sailing from Philadelphia, America to Leith, near Edinburgh and it happened to pass by the Flannan Isles. Captain Holman made note that the light from the lighthouse was not on, no light was coming from the Isle, it was pitch black but what’s strange was that it was about midnight as the ship passed by, in the middle of the night when a shining light would mostly be needed but it was not there. Upon arrival, the crew of the ship informed the Lighthouse Board of what they had seen. What I find quite suspicious here was how no one watching out for the island or more to the point I guess was that no one could. Robert McKenzie was a man being paid £8 a year to watch for any trouble from the island but he did not report anything to the Northern Lighthouse Board, that must have been some really heavy mist if it stops you not noticing a light not being their, can’t light shine through mist? maybe if it’s really thick? If their was any trouble on the island, no one was able to help the men until just after Christmas 1900.

Finally, the SS Hesperus was finally able to set sail for the Flannan Isles on the 26th of December, well after the three men were meant to be relieved of their duties. Joseph Moore, a man meant to replace one of the men went along, however as the ship came close to the island, they noticed that no one was waiting for them on the platform, neither was a flag that would have been up to indicate that the men were aware of the ship’s presence. The ship blasted its horn multiple times and when no response was used from the island, the ship fired up a flare but again, nothing from the silent isle.


Joseph Moore landed on the island and ran up the stairs, calling out the mens names, with no response, just waves crashing against the rocks and the calls from birds, it would be quite easy to fear the worst at this point but Moore made his way into the lighthouse, albeit the door was locked but he unlocked it and what he found could be quite suspicious. Starting in the kitchen, Moore found a half eaten meal, a clock that had stopped and a turned over chair, it was as if someone had gotten up in a hurry. Also, Moore discovered that none of the beds had been slept in. Despite looking all over the Lighthouse, the only source of life Moore was able to find was a half-starved Canary in its cage. The light was in working condition, and after being joined by other crew members from the ship and searching the island from top to bottom, the three men could not be found anywhere, nor any trace of them.

Moore could tell that something was very wrong, he notes that the fire had gone out and the ashes were stone cold and no matter where they looked, nothing was really out-of-place, the pots and pans had been washed and the beds were made. It must have been a spooky sight to see everything in order but no sight of the lighthouse keepers anywhere, it was as if they had just disappeared of the face of the earth! but another interesting feature later discovered by Muirhead, the superintendent was a pair of oilskins was still on its hook whereas the other two were gone, had someone gone out of the lighthouse without their oilskins and if they had done this, why? it was not allowed for all three members to be out of the lighthouse, one must always be in the lighthouse but to be honest…who was really going to know from the mainland if the three men broke this rule? Mist was everywhere!

Muirhead examined the Lighthouse logbook which listed everything that had happened on the island, which could be key to finding out what happened. Although, it does not say how the men vanished, it gives clues as to when it happened. The last entry into the book was the 13th of December, however, entries for the 14th and the 15th were written down on slates. This tells us that the last date that anything was written down was the 15th of December 1900 so as far as we know, this was the day that what ever happened, did happen. It is well documented and is now fact that about this time, a sea storm was occurring, massive rainfalls and heavy winds and evidence of this could be found all over the island. The landing platform was damaged, coil rope was found down the cliffs, even though it was meant to be in a box on the platform that was no longer there. the railings about the platform were bent and damaged and a rock weighing at least a ton had fallen from the cliff, onto the landing stage (maybe that rock knocked the three men off, into the sea?) 

  • Why was one man in light clothing while the other two had coats on?
  • Why were all Three men outside?
  • If they had been swept into the sea, why didn’t the bodies surface?

but one thing has to be noted here because it makes it all strange. Yes there was a storm and yes, the last entry into the log book was on the 15th of December but….their is a problem with this….their was not actually a storm on this day! it actually happened on the 16th of December 1900!

12th December 1900- severe winds the likes of which I have never seen before in twenty years- Thomas Marshall

James have been very quiet

Donald had been crying

from 4:40 it talks about the Flannan Isles Mystery

What strikes me is that this lighthouse was brand new, surely the three men would have been safe during a storm, not that their was one at this time which is odd as there were no recorded storms in this time period, after the 16th anyway…could heavy mist really cover up a storm? I somehow doubt that, unless the person in charge of looking at the Isle from the mainland decided to not do so for a couple of days so the mist would clear up but what we must remember here is that the ship from America sailed by the isle on the 15th and did not report a storm occurring. The weather was calm, very calm in fact so why did the men write that their was a storm?

Storm ended, sea calm. God is over all- 15th of December

Had the men gone insane? the isolation from the mainland may have had a bad effect on all three men, especially with the mist making it impossible to contact the mainland. I’ll admit, their may have been windy conditions but nothing to worry about, especially when your inside a lighthouse but who knows, maybe the men were superstitious, either that or they saw the landing platform being damaged by the conditions but it doesn’t explain why Donald MacArthur was crying, he was known to be a tough guy on the mainland) it just forces more questions to be asked about all of this. No massive storm at the time yet somehow the three men vanish! perhaps they did disappear on the 16th and not the 15th, as to why they didn’t have anything written for the 16th…well, who knows.

But, I have a slight theory that might explain why no bodies have ever been found, a 4th individual on the island. Perhaps someone with a grudge against one of the men on the island.  

  • The lighthouse had been there for a year already
  • The island was dedicated to a saint, yet they built a lighthouse there, desecrating it
  • It wasn’t impossible for anyone with a boat to get to the island, use the mist as cover and sneak on
  • Stow away in the Lighthouse somehow, heck the murderer at Hinterkaifeck was able to hide away
  • Murder the three men
  • Write false diary entries
  • Dispose of the bodies
  • Escape back to the mainland before the mist disappears
  • There you have it, an abandoned lighthouse and missing men, a mystery never to be solved

Keep in mind, that’s just a theory I came up with, so don’t take it seriously but it makes more sense than sea monsters or alien abductions and if it was a murderer, they had plenty of time to do it. Lighthouses were isolated places that may perhaps drive men mad, death at a Lighthouse had happened before so this can’t be ruled out, if you look up deaths at Lighthouse, you are very likely to find a story

Another issue which could explain it all is that Donald MacArthur, the man who’s oilskins were on the hook, well it wasn’t his first time on the island at that time,m in fact in the last 10 weeks of his life, he spent 8 of them on the island. Imagine all of that time on a very tiny island with barely anything to do, that’s a long time and not everyone can go long periods with not much to do. This man had children and a wife on the mainland so being away for so long could have gotten to him, did he snap and kill the others before himself? it’s probable but doesn’t explain what happened to MacArthur afterwards, suicide out of guilt? still no body though. However, no one came to the island until the 26th of December, 10 days after the storm started so if the bodies were in the sea…could they have been swept away in that time?

I’ll go along with the most accepted theory, the one by Muirhead in his report. He says that all three men were swept away by the sea, a wave had done the damage but after testing which you can watch in the video bellow pretty much disproves this and makes it very unlikely that it was the sea that did the damage although it might still of had a part to play in it all.


A wave that had to off been 110ft or more to reach the men, although no such wave has ever been recorded so far by man! the highest wave recorded was 95ft, 15 too low to reach the men so did a rogue wave happen to strike the Isle on the calm day? and if it had, it would have been the biggest wave of all time.

Speaking of Muirhead, his report is the only one to come out of all of this and he did explore the place as well as the lighthouse, what if he saw something there? but hang on, didn’t Joseph Moore also explore the lighthouse beforehand, If something was there that was beyond doubt the cause of all of this, wouldn’t he have said something, like for example

  • MacArthur hanging himself out of guilt?
  • A murder weapon
  • A sea monster


If there was something their that only Muirhead saw, why would he not tell anyone? could it have been that awful that no one must know at all costs? But back to Moore as reports suggest that as he searched the Lighthouse, he felt something so evil that it made him want to get off the island as soon as possible so maybe he saw something, was too scared to say anything then Muirhead discovered it days later, if true…what could it have been?

Conclusion- Rogue Wave seems unlikely, I highly doubt a sea monster was involved. The two most likely theories are an accident whilst working on the landing platform that caused the men to fall into the sea or they were murdered, either by One of the three men or a 4th individual or individuals but with each theory comes questions that make you think otherwise but for me, MacArthur being isolated for so long finally got to him and he may have attacked the other two men which could explain why his coat was not on him, he was not thinking straight and he ran out of the lighthouse, attacked the two men who fought back and then…it caused them all to fall into the sea where they all drowned, never to be seen again. It explains why everything seemed normal in the lighthouse, the chair overturned and down, perhaps MacArthur got up from his seat and went outside, he had enough! The mist was never going to clear up and he would never leave the island!

Of course, we may never truly know how everything played out but I don’t see Sea Monsters or a curse having anything to do with this but then again, I don’t believe in many supernatural things. Using common sense could make things clearer, I mean with evidence, most things can be explained. A wave seemed very unlikely but when you know that one of the three men had spent 8 weeks on a tiny island, it could be explained…although their is no proof of MacArthur showing any signs of insanity during any time nor it written in the logbook, except for the one saying he was crying…wait, could that be evidence? Had he had enough? Seems very likely but not proven but none are the other theories really.

Who Knows. Maybe they should have asked the Canary what happened.

Do you agree or Disagree and if so, what do you think happened on the Flannan Isles?


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