Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NH 46952 52356
246952, 852356


Fairburn Tower is a 16th century tower-house with early 17th century additions, located on a ridge between the Rivers Conon and Orrin. Restored, 2020-22.

The narrow, square plan tower has four stories (including vaulted basement) and an attic. The walls are of lime pointed and harled rubble. There are gun-loops at the ground floor level. A projecting tower containing a broad circular stair was added to the south side during the 17th-century. The attic level has crow-stepped gables and corbelled-out turrets on the northeast and southwest angles. There is a corniced apex chimney stack to the stair tower.

The vaulted basement was not initially accessible from the exterior and was reached from a straight stair within the north wall. The projecting stair tower masks the earlier first-floor entrance doorway with plain moulded surround. The first floor contains the main hall and several mural closets or wall chambers. Each of the upper floors consists of one room of the same size as the hall, again with several wall chambers.

The tower was restored as holiday accommodation by Simpson and Brown Architects for the Landmark Trust (2020-2022). The spiral staircase and the conical roof turrets have been reintroduced, and the roof recovered with grey slate.

Adjoining the east wall of the tower is the roofless remains (2022) of a two-roomed thatched cottage containing a large arched fireplace with an oven which appears to have been from an earlier kitchen wing.

Statement of Special Interest

The tower occupies a commanding position on a hilltop ridge overlooking Strathconon and the Orri valley. A former stronghold of the Mackenzies, the tower was probably built for Murdo Mackenzie after he received a charter for the lands with the understanding that he built a house there.

Listed Building Record revised 2022.



Canmore: CANMORE ID: 12479

Gifford J (1992) The Buildings of Scotland, Highlands and Islands, London, p.412.

MacGibbon D and Ross T (1887) The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Edinburgh, Vol. 3, pp.462-465.

Stell G (1986) 'Architecture and Society in Easter Ross before 1707', in Firthlands of Ross and Sutherland, Edinburgh, pp.116-18.

Tranter N (1970) The Fortified House in Scotland: South West Scotland, Edinburgh, Vol. 5, pp.156-7.

Fairburn Tower, The Landmark Trust - Fairburn Tower | The Landmark Trust [accessed 2022]

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 24/06/2024 02:06