Popular Science

How to build an hourglass watchtower

Survey any threats to your castle—er, home.
hourglass watchtower in use

Survey your backyard domain.

William Gurstelle

Humans have been building watchtowers since long before we had the written language to describe them. In the ancient city of Jericho, archeologists found the ruins of a conical 30-foot-tall building that dates back to 8000 BCE. In northeastern Scotland, 2,000-year-old tower-like structures called broches dot the countryside.

By giving people an elevated view of the surrounding landscape, these watchtowers played an important role in history. Military structures allowed soldiers to spot enemies while they were still a long way off; fire lookouts raised spotters above the treetops so they could locate smoke and flames. And in the modern world, aircraft control towers provide a clear view of aviation activity on the ground and in the air.

You don’t need a lofty purpose in order to build your own watchtower. Do it just because they’re fun to make and let you take in a lovely view.

There are many ways to rise above it all. Stone structures take a while to build, but, as the archeological evidence shows, they can last

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