His family name has resonated across the literary world for over 100 years.

Thanks to enduringly popular works such as Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson enjoys a permanent place in the global pantheon of letters.

Yet it is perhaps less well known that RLS’ relatives revolutionised an altogether different sphere of life - one centred on bricks and granite rather than words.

Adorning some of the country’s most starkly beautiful locations - from the Butt of Lewis to Bell Rock - the Stevenson lighthouses are among the nation’s greatest architectural and engineering marvels.

Most of the towers erected in Scotland were constructed by successive generations of the Stevenson family, often in terrible conditions. But their projects also led to major advances in signalling which were crucial to improving ship navigation and reducing the huge loss of life around our coasts.

Now one of the UK’s leading architects is producing a series of drawings in tribute to the structures - and hopes his visual output might boost their fame and profile.

Professor Alan Dunlop - who has taught in the US, UK and Germany, and whose work includes landmarks such as Glasgow’s Radisson SAS Hotel - is documenting 30 lighthouses scattered across the country. Among them are the towers at Neist Point on Skye and Ardnamurchan, with the latter built under the supervision of Alan Stevenson - RLS’ uncle.

Mr Dunlop, whose studio is in Aberfoyle, Perthshire, said: “What drew me to these lighthouses? Well, they serve a purpose – they warn ships. As far as form and function are concerned, they satisfy that element of architecture. They are built in hazardous and often stunning locations, and the workmanship and craft that have gone into them are extremely impressive. They are civil engineering projects rather than architectural projects, but they have a beauty and simplicity in that they satisfy a particular purpose.

“As far as showcasing Scotland’s locations and wildlife are concerned, it seemed an opportunity to capture something that had not been done before. And, as far as culture and social heritage are concerned, you have the fact that one family built the majority of Scotland’s lighthouses – it’s absolutely incredible. I am not sure Scots know that the Stevensons built so many lighthouses.”

The relationship between the family and lighthouse engineering began with RLS’s grandfather, Robert Stevenson (1772-1850), whose mother Jean Lillie (1751-1820) married Thomas Smith (1753-1815), an engineer at the Northern Lighthouse Board.

Robert became his step father’s professional assistant and, in 1791, oversaw construction of the Clyde Lighthouse on Little Cumbrae. Among his most well known projects is the structure at Bell Rock and he also invented intermittent and flashing lights, earning a gold medal from the Dutch king in the process.

Three of his sons, Alan (1807-1865), David (1815-1886) and Thomas (RLS’s father, 1818 – 1887), became lighthouse engineers, with his grandchildren David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938) and Charles Alexander Stevenson (1855-1950) continuing the family’s contribution and designing buildings from the late nineteenth century to the 1930s.

The achievements also made their mark on RLS who had a deep interest in his grandfather and wrote about him in Records of a Family of Engineers.

“There’s no family like the Stevensons anywhere else in the world,” said Mr Dunlop. “They’re absolutely unique. There’s an incredible painting by Turner of the Bell Rock lighthouse, off the cost of Angus – it is an example of how the Stevensons managed to capture the imagination of one of the world’s great artists.

“Robert Louis Stevenson is, along with Walter Scott, one of Scotland’s best known writers, and most will have heard of his literary achievements. But fewer will be aware of his [wider] family’s engineering achievements in designing Scotland’s most impressive lighthouses.

“When I decided to draw 30 Stevenson lighthouses, I think I wanted a project that would keep me busy until a coronavirus vaccine is available but if they encourage people to go out and visit them – Covid restrictions permitting, of course – then that would certainly be a benefit of what I am doing.”

Mr Dunlop said he also wanted to capture something of the stunning wildlife which gathers around the structures.

“It... gave me an opportunity to draw the birds – the gulls, the fulmars, the guillemots – that visit the lighthouses each year,” he went on. “The birds and wildlife which inhabit the lighthouse locations are certainly worth finding out about. In terms of favourites, the Stevenson lighthouse at Ardnamurchan is pretty special and one I have not drawn... The lighthouse at Skerryvore is also extremely impressive. It sits right out in the Atlantic on a rock and looks incredible.”