Twelve Apostles – Catacol, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Twelve Apostles

Catacol, Scotland

These quaint cottages feature built-in signaling devices for fishermen. 


When farmers were cleared from their homes in the mid 1800s during the Scottish Clearances, many were relocated to coastal areas, where it was hoped they would begin new lives as fishermen.

Those relocated to the village of Catacol on Arran were offered cottages with a unique feature to help them adapt to life on the seas. Each of these dwellings, known as the Twelve Apostles, was built with a differently shaped upstairs window.

The theory behind this architectural oddity was that a wife in urgent need of her husband could light a candle in the window. The fishermen would see the uniquely shaped lights shining across the dark Firth of Clyde and return home.

In reality, the special windows were never used for this purpose. The intended residents, furious at being evicted from their traditional homes, refused to move into the Apostle Houses. The cottages stood empty for years afterwards.

Know Before You Go

The Apostle Houses can be viewed from the road with their unique windows easily visible. Keep in mind that they are now private dwellings, but residents are aware of their houses' significance and are used to tourists taking pictures.

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