McCaig's Folly
McCaig's Folly
Built between 1897 and 1900, this striking folly is a fanciful copy of the Colosseum in Rome. The Folly is perched on a hill overlooking the town, and a public garden is located inside the hollow shell. Steep steps climb to the top of the hill.
John Stuart McCaig was a successful banker in Oban, head of the North of Scotland Bank. In a spirit of public service mixed with no small amount of family pride he decided to build a very odd public building on a high hillside overlooking Oban harbour. The project was intended to provide employment for local stone masons during the lean winter months, and at the same time create a lasting memorial to the McCaig family.

The Tower is built of local granite from Bonawe, with a circumference of 200 metres. There are two tiers of arches; a lower tier of 44 lancets, and an upper tier of 50 lancets. McCaig did not hire an architect, but designed and supervised the building himself, to a budget of �5000. He drew inspiration from classical sources, both Greek and Roman, and intended the finished building to house an art gallery and museum, surmounted by a central tower. The tower was meant to house statues to his family. In the end, McCaig's grand plans came to naught, for he died in 1902 at the age of 78 and construction came to a halt, with only the shell of the building complete.

The 'tower' is completely hollow, and roofless, but from a distance it bears more than a little resemblance to its Roman inspiration. The interior of the Folly is a public garden, and though the garden is pleasant enough, it is the superb views that make a climb to the Folly worthwhile.