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Oban, General

Burgh (Medieval), Town (17th Century)

Site Name Oban, General

Classification Burgh (Medieval), Town (17th Century)

Canmore ID 69799

Site Number NM83SE 42

NGR NM 859 302

NGR Description CENTRED ON

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilmore And Kilbride
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM83SE 42 85 30

Erected burgh of barony 31 July 1820, superseding charter of 11 March 1811.

G S Pryde 1965.

Architecture Notes


Scottish Record Office.

Argyll, Oban-Inn.

The Inn and Hotel. Letter from Thomas Stevenson calls upon the subscribers to the project of building a new inn and hotel. 1825.



Argyll, Taynuilt Hotel.

Photographs etc: NMRS, one print. Missing at time of upgrade, 22.2.2000.


Argyll, Oban, William Black Memorial.

Architect: William Leiper.

Precise location unknown at time of upgrade, 2.2.2000.


Argyllshire, Oban, McGilvray's Building.

Architect: - Gardner and Millar, 1905.

Precise location unknown at time of upgrade, 22.2.2000.


Oban, Coastguard Station.

PSA Photograph Collection. Acc no. 1993/85.

1975 model Y/360.

1976 model Y/408.

Precise location unknown at ime of upgrade, 2.2.2000.

NMRS Photographs.

Argyll, Oban, Old lighthouse.

One postcard.

NMRS. Printroom/RIAS Nelson Collection.

Oban, General view.

Embossed general view of Oban, Argyll.

Insc: 'Oban. Published by A. Wilson. Oban'.

Unsigned, no date.

(90 x 125), Acc. No: 1993/89.

NMRS: Plans.

Argyll, Oban Commercial Bank.


Dick Peddie & MacKay, Edinburgh. Additions and alterations.

Bin 29, Bag 1. 13 Young Street. 1888-9.

NMRS: Plans.

Argyll, Oban, British Linen Bank.


Dick Peddie & MacKay, Edinburgh. New.

Attic 2, Bin 22, Bag 1. Dick Peddie & Walker Todd, 1926.

Dick Peddie & MacKay, Edinburgh. New.

Bin 28, Bag 2. Dick Peddie & Walker Todd, 1927.

NMRS: Plans.

Argyll, Oban, New Parish Church.

Drawings in plan chest - drawer 6.

Plans: Dick Peddie & MacKay, Edinburgh. Competition designs (2 sets).


Publication Account (1985)

Although Oban can proclaim few early buildings, its origins, like those of Campbeltown, go back to the very earliest inhabitants of Scotland, traces of whose remains were found in the course of building programmes in the last century; caves with the occupation debris of some of the earliest hunting communities in Scotland were discovered, together with several cist-burials of bronze-age date, particularly as the northern part of the town was being developed. The medieval stronghold of Dunollie (no. 23), perhaps with its origins in the Dark Ages, underlines the importance of the anchorage, at a time when so much of west coast communications were seaborne. There was by the early 18th century a prosperous trading station and by about 1760 a customs house had been established. As illustrated about the middle of the 19th century Oban is shown to have been a neat thriving town with the Free Church and much of George Street already built, with Stafford Street running down to what is now the North Pier.

On 30 June 1880 the Callander and Oban railway was at last complete and Oban was set to become that 'Charing Cross of the Highlands' that it remains today: the railway, together with MacBrayne's steamers, offers holiday-makers access to some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland. Moreover, from a commercial point of view for the fishermen, the railway opened up markets in the south. Even allowing for what is clearly a festive occasion, the Oban of around 1890 as shown in George Washington Wilson's photograph is very different from the illustration of only thirty years before.

Although it may seem unkind to say that Oban has little to offer the architecturally-minded visitor, look up above the modem shop fronts and there are often fine examples of domestic building of later Victorian and early twentieth century styles. The great tower that overlooks the town begun by James Stuart McCaig between 1897 and his death in 1902 is a monument both to himself and to his belief that the masons of Oban should be employed during the lean winter months. Churches of note are the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Columba on Corran Esplanade; the architect was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and the building was completed in 1952. Nearby is the attractive church of Christ's Church, Dunollie, built in 1957, designed by the distinguished architect Leslie Grahame MacDougall.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).


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