McCaig’s Tower, Oban, Scotland – The Scottish Amphitheatre

Located in the Scottish Highlands, the port city of Oban is the gateway to the Hebrides. McCaig’s Tower stands tall on Battery Hill overlooking the city and the bay.

The entrance to McCaig’s Tower, which can only be accessed by foot.

McCaig’s Tower was the idea of John Stuart McCaig, a banker who wanted to do two things:

  1. Leave a lasting monument to his family
  2. Create work for stonemasons in the winter

The result is McCaig’s Tower, which is an open Roman amphitheatre-style building. It consists of various arches over multiple levels, forming a circle that crowns the hill.

The central area of the tower is a park where people come, have picnics and spend time with friends.

A Tower or Something Else

McCaig’s Tower has another name: McCaig’s Folly. It is a project that was directly related to the man’s hubris. He also designed it himself, serving as his own architect. He started building it in 1897 but he died in 1902. Worked stopped on the project; it was never completed.

What would it have been if it had been completed? No one knows. There are rumours that it would have been an art gallery. Other rumours mention adding the roof. It was never included in the original plans. The ground inside the tower was also never prepared for further development. As a result, we have no idea what the finished building would have looked like.

The multiple layers of arches creating the tower.

McCaig’s Folly also refers to the price. John Stuart McCaig paid £5000 pounds to build it, which would be over £500,000 today. That’s expensive for an unfinished building with no purpose!

One thing we do know is the beautiful views that it offers. If you start at the town centre (the part where the beach/port area is), there are 144 steps to climb to reach the top of Battery Hill. You can also drive to near the top and only have around 5 steps if you are able to park in the small car park.

On a clear day from the top, you can see the Inner Hebrides, such as Mull, Lismore and Kerrera. You can also watch the ferries going to the Outer Hebrides, such as Barra, Lewis and South Uist. As you can see from the photos, it is a bit difficult to see the city of Oban from the top but the views out over the harbour are beautiful.


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