Fairburn Tower, Ross-shire
Help us save one of Scotland's most prized tower houses
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.
We launched our appeal for Fairburn in May and we have had a fantastic response with over 700 donors generously giving £68,082 towards the restoration so far.
Please support our appeal and help us stitch together the perilous cracks which run from top to bottom. Your gift today could bring this fine building back into new use as a Landmark.
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
We are hugely grateful to all those who have supported the appeal for Fairburn Tower so far, including:
Guardians of Fairburn Tower:
Mr and Mrs N Campbell, Mr B Foord, Mr G Neame, OBE, Mr and Mrs M Seale
Patrons and other generous individuals:
Mr S Ansell, Mr R Baker, Dr J Barney, Mr M Bennett, Mrs E Colam, Mr P Corey, Mr A Baker and Ms S Darling, Mr J Darycott, Ms F Grimshaw, Mrs M Jones, Mrs S Lund, Mr A Pym, The Hon. Tobias Tennant, Mrs S Wiggert, Mrs S Wrangham
Charitable Trusts and Statutory Grants:
The Architectural Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland
We thank all who have supported the appeal, including other Guardians, Patrons and trusts who have chosen to remain anonymous.