Harper’s Cairn, at the entrance to the car park in the centre of Muir of Ord.
The plaque on Harper’s Cairn reads: “The original site of the cairn is reputed to have been in the garden of the adjacent schoolhouse.
The Chlarsair, or harper, according to local legend, was slain by Iain Dubh Ghiuthais to prevent disclosure of the theft of millstones, of which he was unfortunate to be spectator.”
Fairburn Tower owes its fame to the prophesy of the Brahan Seer who claimed: The day will come when the Mackenzies of Fairburn shall lose their entire possessions; their castle will become uninhabited and a cow shall give birth to a calf in the uppermost chamber of the tower.
By 1851 the tower was a ruin and was used by a farmer to store hay. It is said that a cow followed a trail of hay up the stairs to the top of the tower where it got stuck and then gave birth to a calf. By the time both were taken down five days later locals had had opportunity to see for themselves the fulfilment of the prophesy.
The origins of the tower stem from 1542 when King James V granted land to Murdo Mackenzie, Gentleman of the Bedchamber, to erect the building.
When the Mackenzies backed James Stuart, the Old Pretender, during the 1715 rebellion, the subsequent defeat of James led to the Crown confiscating Mackenzie’s estate. It was later restored to Alexander Mackenzie, but he declined to fight for King George in the Jacobite uprising of 1745. By this time the estate was in decline, was eventually deserted and the tower became a ruin.
In 2018 it was announced that the Landmark Trust, a building conservation charity, was setting up an appeal to raise £800,000 to save the building.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has offered support to the tune of £455,000, but the total cost is estimated to be around £1.8 million.
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In the summer of 2019 The Landmark Trust issued an appeal for the final £300,000 of the £1.8 million cost of restoration, to permit urgent repair works prior to construction work beginning in 2020.
Widening structural cracks require scaffolding to be erected around the tower in order to protect it against another harsh winter, before work can commence to restore the building to self-catering holiday accommodation.
Attribution: Photograph of Fairburn Tower are courtesy of The Landmark Trust