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Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands

Date 2007

Event ID 929238

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


This round tower is one of three in Scotland. There are 76 in Ireland. These towers, possibly built by Irish masons, are believed to be of religious origin and date from about the 10th century and may have contained bells. Their

purpose is unknown but possibly were intended as a lookout or place of safety in times of trouble.

The tower is about 85 ft high, built of coursed masonry, with a number of timber-floored storeys connected by ladder. A conical roof was added later. The entrance is about 7 ft above ground level. Another tower at

Abernethy is about 72 ft tall and of similar construction. A third round tower survives at Egilsay in the Shetlands. It is now only 50 ft high, having been shortened in the 19th century.

In civil engineering terms the towers were well sited and designed with tapering walls. It is conducive to the stability of Abernethy tower that its walls are about 8 in. thicker on the outside at their base, which is about 312

ft wider than at the tower top.

R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands' with kind permission from Thomas Telford Publishers.

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