McCaig's Tower

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McCaig's Tower from the ferry to Mull

McCaig's Tower is a large, circular folly which stands on a cliff overlooking Oban in Argyllshire, of which town it is a prominent landmark. The tower is perched on Battery Hill, at the edge of the cliff overlooking the town and its harbour

John Stuart McCaig had the tower built between 1897 to 1902, in order to provide work for local builders and stonemasons during the seasons they were without work: the work stopped when the builders of the town. It is built of Bonawe granite taken from the quarries across Airds Bay, on Loch Etive, from Muckairn. It is in the form of a hollow, roofless ring with a circumference of about 200 yards with 94 lancet arches in two-tiers of (44 on the bottom and 50 on top).

Building the tower

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the hilltop overlooking Oban was the site of an artillery battery. In the 1890s, John Stuart McCaig bought the land and began clearing the military works from the site.

McCaig was a wealthy banker, with the North of Scotland Bank, who styled himself also (on the dedication plaque) as an art critic and an essayist. The work cost him £5,000. McCaig was his own architect.[1] The tower was erected between 1897 and his death, aged 78 from cardiac arrest, on 29 June 1902.

McCaig's intention was to provide a lasting monument to his family, and provide work for the local stonemasons during the winter months. McCaig was an admirer of Roman and Greek architecture, and had planned for an elaborate structure, based on the Colosseum in Rome. His plans allowed for a museum and art gallery with a central tower to be incorporated. Inside the central tower he planned to commission statues of himself, his siblings and their parents. His death brought an end to construction with only the outer walls completed.

The tower passed to McCaig's family and was eventually sold to Oban town council.

Inside the tower


The empty shell of the tower dominates the Oban skyline (as "the Crown of Oban"). The space within the walls is now a public garden with magnificent views over the bay to the islands of Kerrera, Lismore and Mull. A viewing platform has been installed outside the wall, over the cliff,

The first marriage to be conducted in McCaig's Tower was between Oban High School teachers Jim Maxwell and Margaret Milligan and was reported in the Oban Times published 11 July 2003.[2]

Also reported in the Oban Times drinking of alcohol is prohibited in the tower under local by-laws.[3]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about McCaig's Tower)