Fairburn Tower, Ross-shire

Help us save one of Scotland's most prized tower houses

Fairburn Tower, Mikey Mcmanus

Fairburn Tower is desperately at risk

Listed Category A, Fairburn Tower is a rare and precious survival, built in 1545 for Murdo Mackenzie, a Gentleman of the Bedchamber of King James V.  The romance of its history matches that of its setting amid wide and beautiful views of Strathconon, some 20 miles west of Inverness.

Historic Environment Scotland considers this to be one of the most significant at-risk tower houses in the country.  Its unspoiled setting, unusual height, the completeness of the walls, and available information about its original form, are all exceptional. They have since offered a major grant to support the project, giving Landmark - with your support - the chance to secure its future.

96% of the appeal target has already been pledged or donated by generous supporters. 

Please help us raise the final £73,000 needed to save this building. Your gift today will help us stitch together the perilous cracks which run from top to bottom, before it's too late.  

Donate now


Help give Fairburn Tower a bright future

This rich historic site will be lost without your help. The tower’s only chance of survival is restoration as a Landmark holiday let for four people under a long lease. Fairburn Tower’s well-preserved architectural details would give it a unique place among Landmark’s existing tower houses, a rare survivor of the brief flowering of the Scottish Renaissance.

The dramatic cracks running the length of its walls can be stitched and repaired. Detailed building analysis is already underway and will allow us to recover the tower’s form.  The restoration of Fairburn Tower will provide an opportunity for craft skills to be honed and passed down to the apprentices who will work on this project with our contractors.  With your support this fine building will once again stand tall and proud in the glorious countryside which surrounds it.

See our plans for the tower


Built in a captivating but lawless highland landscape

The Scottish Renaissance flowered in the mid-16th century under the Stuarts. Yet times were still lawless, and the pleasures of civilisation had to be combined with robust defence. Murdo Mackenzie, 'a gracefull Youth', was one of James's favourites, and was chosen  to be a Gentleman of the Bedchamber.. Murdo recieved a crown grant of lands at 'Mydefairburne' in 1542, on condition that he build a suitably defensible house with orchards and gardens. 

As first built, the tower had just four floors. The lawlessness of clan rivalries at the time meant the external door was at first floor level, with internal stairs to a vaulted basement with 12 gun ports. More gunholes were peppered across the stairs and upper floors. A turnpike stairs within the width of the walls led to the upper floors.

Read about the history of the tower



Fairburn Tower

The Landmark Podcast

Listen and download The Landmark Trust Podcast, as Landmark Ambassador Kirsty Wark talks us through the history and future of Fairburn Tower.

Listen to The Landmark Podcast


We are hugely grateful to all those who have supported the appeal for Fairburn Tower so far, including:

Guardians of Fairburn Tower and other lead supporters:

Dr J and Mrs J Bull, Mr and Mrs N Campbell, The Hon. Elizabeth Cayzer, Mrs E Colam, Mr B Foord, Mr C Giles, Sir Angus Grossart CBE, Mr A Murray-Jones, Mr D Milles, Mr G Neame OBE, Dr A Pym, Mr and Mrs M Seale, Mr B Sealey CBE, Mrs H Sealey, The Hon. Tobias Tennant

Patrons and other generous individuals:

Mr S Ansell, Mr R Baker, Dr J Barney, Mr M Bennett, Mr P Corey, Miss S Curry, Mr A Baker and Ms S Darling, Mr J Darycott, Mr A Dean, Ms F Grimshaw, Mr R Grigson and Mr A Layng, Mr G and Mrs A Kingston, Mrs M Jones, Mrs S Lund, John Mackenzie of Gairloch, Dr P Strangeway, Mrs S Wiggert, Mrs S Wrangham

Gifts in Wills and in memory:

The late Reverend J Grover, the late Mr D Lawrence, and the late Mr A Peacock

Charitable Trusts and Statutory Grants:

The Architectural Heritage Fund, Bartleet Family Fund, The Binks Trust, T B H Brunner Charitable Trust, The Gough Charitable Trust, Lesley Mary Carter Charitable Trust, Historic Environment Scotland, The John R Murray Charitable Trust, RV and RH Simons Charitable Trust, Tulip Charitable Trust, Viewforth Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation

We thank all who have supported the appeal, including other Guardians, Patrons and trusts who have chosen to remain anonymous.


Michael Marks Charitable Trust