McCaig’s Tower, Oban's crowning glory

The crowning glory of Oban, McCaig's Tower is a monument designed by eccentric Victorian millionaire John Stuart McCaig. At first glance, visitors might think it looks like the Roman Colosseum, but a closer look reveals that it is circular, and has Gothic and Roman touches. And while technically it's not a tower, Oban natives have adopted, with great pride, their "tower" since it was built on Battery Hill, Oban's highest point.

Technically classified as an architectural folly, the "tower", constructed of local granite, was built at the turn of the 20th century by a Lismore boy turned self made banker, John Stuart McCaig. He designed the monument himself, and employed masons during the winter months. The outer shell complete, he next planned to build an inner tower to house an art museum, as well as sculptures of himself and his large brood of siblings.

But when he died suddenly, work on the monument stopped. Having spent about £5,000 on the project, McCaig left the same amount in his will to complete it. But his remaining siblings contested the will, and a judge declared that MCaig was an "eccentric" intestate, and further work on his monument did not serve the public good.

Instead, Catherine McCaig, John's sister, invested the money in trusts, and funded good works, including a church, coal for the poor and Gaelic language education. In fact, her legacy is still funding Gaelic scholarships today.

For decades, nature reclaimed the monument, but residents have claimed it back, transforming the spot into a peaceful garden with a platform where you can take in the best view in town. Watch the sun set over the bay, boats and islands, and be sure to bring your camera.

Visit McCaig's Tower with our historian and certified STGA Oban Walking Tour guide, Michelle. Hear the story behind it and get the best view in Oban. If you don't fancy the walk, visit on a driving private day tour with us- either way, get in touch today to book a walking or private day tour with Imagine Alba!

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