McCaig’s Tower – Oban, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

McCaig’s Tower

Oban, Scotland

Looking strangely like Rome's Colosseum, this unfinished tower has dominated the skyline for over 100 years.  


Started, but never finished, McCaig’s Tower is only a small part of what the designer, John McCaig, had planned for the hill that rises sharply behind Oban’s High Street and Distillery.

McCaig was born on the Isle of Lismore (which is visible from the tower) and became a wealthy banker. At age 72 in 1885, he commissioned what would become McCaig’s Tower, and work continued until his death at 78 in 1902. After his death, however, the work stopped, leaving the folly as we know it now, bearing an odd resemblance to the Colosseum in Rome.

There has been much speculation since about what McCaig’s ultimate plans for the structure were, but it’s accepted that a central tower containing a museum and gallery were part of them. McCaig did bequeath £1000 per year to pay for the construction of the rest of the tower, but this was challenged by his family in court. 

This curious structure, made of stone from the Bonawe quarry on Loch Etive, has dominated Oban’s skyline ever since. The tower measures over 650 feet around and has 100 lancet arches on two levels, offering stunning views in every direction. The interior is now a beautiful, peaceful park and a door on the western side leads on to a viewing platform offering magnificent views over Oban, Kerrera, Mull, Lismore, and the Firth of Lorn.

Know Before You Go

Located on Battery Hill, easily accessed from High Street. It’s well signposted but it’s very steep!

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September 27, 2019

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