McCaig's Tower, also known by tourists (but never by locals) as McCaig's Folly, is a prominent tower on Battery Hill overlooking the town of Oban in Argyll, Scotland. It is built of Bonawe granite taken from the quarries across Airds Bay, on Loch Etive, from Muckairn, with a circumference of about 200 metres (660 ft) with two-tiers of 94 lancet arches (44 on the bottom and 50 on top). It is a Grade B Listed historic monument.
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. Although his will included £1,000 per year for maintenance, the will was disputed by his heirs; their appeal to the court was successful.
The structure has been a Grade B Listed historic monument since 1971. The listing summary offers this information:
There was to be a central tower and statues in the arched openings. Dean of Guild Court retains drawings of a "stone and lime wall and granite tower, with freestone dressings" dated 1895, and of "stone and lime wall as an addition to the wall at present being erected" dated 1896, and a further addition to the height of the wall by 15 feet [4.5 m] in 1897.
The empty shell of the tower dominates the Oban skyline, and is now a public garden with magnificent views to the islands of Kerrera, Lismore and Mull. It is reached via the 144 steps of Jacob's Ladder or by car, but the car park is quite small.
The first wedding ceremony 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. Also reported in the Oban Times drinking of alcohol is prohibited in the tower under local by-laws.
References and notes
- Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Basic Site Details Archived 2012-02-07 at the Wayback Machine
- "Oban, Mccaig's Tower | Canmore". canmore.org.uk. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
- National Library of Scotland 1867 Townplan of Oban (Zoomed on The Battery) Archived 2011-10-03 at the Wayback Machine
- Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Basic Biographical Details Archived 2012-02-07 at the Wayback Machine
- National Library of Scotland 1867 Townplan of Oban (Zoomed on John Square) Archived 2011-10-03 at the Wayback Machine
- Discovering McCaig’s Tower The People's History Show S03E04
- MCCAIG'S TOWER
- BATTERY HILL, MCCAIG MONUMENT LB38814
- MCCAIG’S TOWER
- Oban Times Archive 2003 - Two for the tower Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
- Oban Times Archive 2004 - Police announce drinking in public clampdown Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
- Panorama of McCaig's Tower (QuickTime required)