McCaig's Tower

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McCaig's Tower.
Interior of the shell of McCaig's Tower.
McCaig's Tower from the ferry to Mull. Additional Images may be found at The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland website.

McCaig's Tower[1] is a prominent tower on Battery Hill[2] 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).

The structure was commissioned, at a cost of £5,000 sterling (£500,000 at 2006 prices using GDP deflator), by the wealthy, philanthropic banker (North of Scotland Bank), John Stuart McCaig.

John Stuart McCaig was his own architect.[3] The tower was erected between 1897 and his death, aged 78 from cardiac arrest, on 29 June 1902 at John Square House in Oban.[4]

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 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. 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.[5] Also reported in the Oban Times drinking of alcohol is prohibited in the tower under local by-laws.[6]

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Coordinates: 56°24′56″N 5°28′09″W / 56.4156°N 5.4691°W / 56.4156; -5.4691