Travel Report: McCaig’s Tower – Oban, Scotland.
July 2019. The Scottish town of Oban is an incredibly beautiful place for so many reasons. From the dramatic sight of Dunollie Castle to the deep blue waters of Oban Bay with its various islands, this place is certainly a feast for the old eyeballs. Moreover, and perhaps most impressive of all, you’ve got the elegant form of McCaig’s Tower holding court over everything. Hence a visit to Oban’s most famed monument is an essential part of any visit.
McCaig’s Tower sits authoritatively atop Battery Hill. Just make your way up Duncraggan Road from the town centre and you’ll reach these entrance steps in about ten to fifteen minutes.
There are some picture perfect townhouses to admire along the way, all with very pretty gardens flush with flowers and plants.
The tower was built by John Stuart McCaig, a wealthy Scottish banker. Basically, he wanted to create an everlasting monument to his family. As a noted philanthropist, he also wanted to create a grand project that would provide much needed work for Oban’s stonemason community during the tough winter.
In fact, McCaig became so emotionally invested in the project he even appointed himself his own architect. As an admirer of Greek and Roman architecture, he envisioned a Colosseum-like structure bringing a touch of old Rome to the Scottish landscape. And so construction kicked off in late 1897 using Bonawe Granite sourced from a number of quarries across Aird’s Bay on Scotland’s West Coast.
McCaig’s Tower, Oban.
The building process was a slow one, especially as McCaig wanted the complex to include a museum, an art gallery, a central tower and statues of himself and his loved ones. But in the end it just wasn’t meant to be. Nearly four years later, on the 29th of June 1902, McCaig dropped dead after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 78 years old.
What you see today is pretty much what Oban was left with following McCaig’s death. The project was subsequently abandoned and the tower stood as a sad reminder of a grand idea never destined to come to fruition.
Today you can come and admire the outer walls and the well kept garden within. Best of all, a viewing platform provides excellent views across Oban Bay and the islands of Kerrera, Lismore and Mull. If I’m being picky, I’d say they could do with replacing the platform itself, which is a bit of an eyesore.
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