In 1819 petitions were made to erect a lighthouse on Buchan Ness. Robert Stevenson, Engineer of the Lighthouse Board surveyed the area and it was built by 1827. In 1907 a broad red band was painted on the tower to distinguish it for seafarers by day.
During the World War a drifting mine was washed ashore and exploded some 50 yards from the lighthouse. No one was injured but 3 lantern panes were cracked, 12 other panes of glass were broken in the tower, engine room and cottages.
Part of the ceilings of the kitchen and one bedroom of the first assistants house collapsed and locks, hinges and the bolts of four doors were damaged. 20 slates came off the storehouse roof. In 1910 the light was altered to dioptric, and the lantern power increased from 6500 to 786000 candlepower. In 1978 it was converted to electricity, and in 1988 it was automated.
There are 166 steps to the top of the tower.