McCaig’s Tower: 19th Century Colosseum of Scotland

Towering over Battery Hill, Oban, McCaig’s Tower is one of the most peculiar sights in Scotland. Also known as McCaig’s Folly, although locals do not approve of this name, the tower is a historic monument with an interesting story. As the name suggests, the idea for the tower belonged to one John Stuart McCaig, a wealthy philanthropist who lived in the 19th century. The tower cost McCaig at least 5000 pounds which is the equivalent of nearly 600,000 pounds today. Although McCaig never saw the end result of his effort and money, the tower has been an official historic monument since the 70s and the icon of Oban, Scotland for more than a century.

McCaig's Tower

The story of how McCaig started to build his tower has various versions but two among them stand as the most probable ones. Firstly, McCaig was a native of Argyll, where Oban is. Therefore, he wanted to make a monument to his hometown celebrating his good fortune and showing his love for the community. Secondly, he wanted to provide a stable job for stonemasons most of whom did not receive any work during winter. Therefore, the building of the tower only continued during winters so that the local stonemasons did not go out of business.

McCaig's Tower from above

McCaig’s Tower obviously takes inspiration from Rome’s Colosseum and in a way looks like it. This is because John McCaig was an avid fan of Roman and Greek architecture. He consciously designed the tower to look like a Roman structure. Moreover, true to a Roman temple fashion, he wanted to fill a part of the tower with statues of him and his family. However, this did not happen due to some issues.

McCaig's Tower inner walls

Despite its expensive cost for McCaig, the tower proved to be an impressive sight, nonetheless. It has a circumference of 200 meters with the tower center being one of the biggest gardens in Scotland. Each side of the tower provides an excellent view of the town and the bay. McCaig’s Tower is a local favorite as some locals even have their wedding ceremonies in it.

McCaig's Tower walls
McCaig's Tower walls close up
McCaig's Tower windows
McCaig's Tower entrance
the structure window and view
the structure from above