Abernethy Round Tower – Abernethy, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Abernethy, Scotland

Abernethy Round Tower

One of two Irish-style round towers in Scotland, this structure has mysterious origins.  

The Abernethy round tower is one of two known Irish-style round towers in Scotland. It’s thought to have been built around 1100 CE, but it’s unclear exactly why.

It’s most likely the tower was built adjacent to a church. This would make sense, as records show there has been a church in Abernethy since at least 600 CE.

Throughout the centuries, the mysterious tower has been put to good use. In the past, it served as a bell tower, a lookout post, and a safe place for locals to stash their stuff—and themselves—during troubled times.

Today, the tower stands as an iconic local, medieval landmark. A spiral staircase leads to the top, which offers panoramic views over the countryside toward the Firth of Tay. Before the modern staircases were constructed, people reached the top via wooden floors linked by a series of ladders.

In the 20th-century, the tower received a new addition from an ancient source. A Pictish stone symbol depicting a hammer and anvil among other designs was mounted onto the structure. The stone had been discovered in the School Wynd. Abernethy had been a religious and political hub within the kingdom of the Picts.

Know Before You Go

Climbing the tower is closed until further notice to allow for ongoing conservation works. However, the outside of the tower can be viewed. When not under construction, the tower is open every day except on Mondays and Tuesdays. You can get the key from Berryfields Tea Room. See the website for details on when it will open again.

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