01 February 2011 Register  Login
Traditional Buildings - Towers

Towers are features of many churches, especially of surviving mediaeval buildings, and of 19th and early 20th century churches. Often such features are surmounted by steeples, but for clarity steeples are being omitted at this stage. Sometimes towers are completely integrated into the body of the church (see Traditional Buildings - Gables and Plans).


End towers

End towers are features of some 18th century churches, but become much commoner in the early 19th century, when the Gothic Revival (see below) began to be popular. Such towers often have, or were designed to have, clocks, and bells. In most instances, the ground floor serves as a porch.

Collace Parish Church, Perth and Kinross

Collace Parish Church, Perth and Kinross,
An early and good example of a Gothic Revival church with an end tower


The two churches with towers illustrated above have the tower next to the body of the building. In some instances, however, the tower is partly set into the body.

Auchterhouse Parish Church - Angus

Auchterhouse Parish Church, Angus.
Here the tower is inset into the body, and has an external stairway to the gallery.

Side towers

The end tower is appropriate to a church with the pulpit at the end of one of the short walls. Side towers are better suited to churches with the pulpit on one of the long walls. Some churches with such towers are on a T-plan, with a wing on the long side opposite to the tower.

Glencairn Parish Church - Dumfries and Galloway

 Glencairn Parish Church, Dumfries and Galloway.
 The tower on the side is matched by a wing on the opposite side, not visible in this view.

Towers at a corner


Towers to one side of a front gable are common in urban churches. This drawing shows one adjacent to the body of the building, but often such a tower will be integrated into the building shell, often housing a porch, and sometimes a stairway to the gallery.

Central towers

Central towers were features of many mediaeval churches, such as Glasgow and Kirkwall cathedrals. Situated over the crossing between the east-west and north-south axes of the buildings, such towers housed bells, and may also have been used as landmarks, and as lookout positions. During the middle and later 19th century, and in the early-mid 20th century, some churches were built with such features.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church - Torry - Aberdeen

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Torry, Aberdeen,
an early 20th century church with a central tower.



Church of Scotland emblem

Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland

Scottish Episcopal Church


Bishops' Conference

The Scottish

Historic Scotland

This project is supported and joint-funded by the above organisations

Click to order your copy

Order your copy of the INFORM church here


Terms Of Use   Privacy Statement   Powered by TAQT.co.uk
Copyright 2007-11 © Church Buildings Maintenance in Scotland