Inside McCaig's Tower

Photo Information
McCaig's Tower - The Crown of Oban

McCaig's Tower was built on the historic site of Battery Hill. This was the location of the heavy guns of the former 3rd Argyllshire Artillery Volunteers. John Stuart McCaig of Muckairn and Soroba purchased the site in 1875 and, with the heavy guns still in place, applied on the 8th July 1895 for a building warrant to construct a half circle ‘stone lime wall’ behind the battery.

Construction began almost immediately and further warrant was granted in 1896 to extend the wall to a full circle. The third and final warrant in 1897 allowed the height of the wall to be increased by fifteen feet. Work continued intermittently until 1900 - the date inscribed on die stone above the entrance.

The completed tower is a grey granite circular screen wall, 190 feet in diameter, with two tiers of pointed-arch arcading over a fountain tier set on a floor of natural rock. McCaig made clear, from the very start, that the Tower was a project to provide employment for out of work Oban stone masons. This probably explains the stopping and starting of progress in line with building trade fluctuations. The Tower stands to this day as a tribute to a man of destiny in Oban’s history.

What concept McCaig had in mind and what influenced the design is a mystery. Initially McCaig planned the addition of a 95 foot high central tower with a museum, art gallery and chapel. He seems to have abandoned these ideas but, in his last will and testament, directed that the tower should be embellished with bronze statues of the McCaig family. These explicit directions were never executed.

It is doubtful if roofing was ever considered and we can only guess at the reason for the design. The Colosseum in Rome has been suggested as a possible inspiration, McCaig having visited Italy in the winter of 1880/81. The detail of the Tower is more Gothic than classical and McCaig’s Tower today is a category B Listed Building.

Following McCaig’s death, ownership passed to his sister Catherine and, on her death in 1913, control passed to the trustees, who finally conveyed the Tower to Oban Town Council in 1969. The Council undertook landscaping and floodlighting and further improvements were carried out by Argyll & Bute District Council following local government reform, including the construction of an improved viewing platform.

If ever you visit Oban, the trek up to the Tower is a MUST - the views from here are stunning !

K-r + Sigma 18-250
29/09/2016 - 16:01PeterKR
CategoryLandscape / Travel
Shutter Speed1/125
Focal Length18mm


Link Posted 30/09/2016 - 00:18
We are always learning something from this site. Thank you for both the image and the text.
Both the *istDS and the K5 are incurably addicted to old glass

My page on Photocrowd - link


Link Posted 30/09/2016 - 07:38
An impressive construction. Thanks for the history Peter!

Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried! (Bill Brandt)


Link Posted 30/09/2016 - 10:37
Wonderful, thanks for the history of Oban's most prominent land mark. Somewhere in my collection of old colour slides I have a sunset scene shot from inside the tower.


Link Posted 30/09/2016 - 11:20
pauljay wrote:
An impressive construction. Thanks for the history Peter!

Not a bad shot either


Link Posted 30/09/2016 - 19:49
Many thanks to you all for the comments.

We saw this building on the skyline from Oban harbour and asked what it was. Then asked how to get there.
It is not signposted from the main part of the town but follow the signs to the sports centre and as you get nearer it is !

As I said, it is well worth the visit (or re-visit).

Thanks again
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