This cutesome little chap is here to tell a tall tale. So tall, in fact, that it played out atop a tower: Fairburn Tower near Muir of Ord.
In the 17th Century, the Brahan Seer – real name Kenneth Mackenzie – spooked everyone with his prophecies. Many came true – he is thought to have predicted the Battle of Culloden, the railways, North Sea oil, and gas and water being piped into homes. He even foresaw Scotland having its own parliament again, the first since 1707, and said it would only happen when “men could walk dry-shod from England to France”. Lo and behold, in 1994 the Channel Tunnel opened, and five years later the newly-formed Scottish Parliament met for the first time.
One of the Seer’s stranger prophecies concerned Fairburn Tower, and an unusual spot for the birth of a calf. “The day will come,” he said, “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.”
In 1851, the tower was indeed no longer owned by the Mackenzies, and it was used instead by a local farmer, who kept his hay in it. One day, a pregnant cow felt tempted to mosey on up the tower in pursuit of said hay, and she became completely stuck at the top. Her calf decided to make an appearance at precisely the wrong moment, and news of the ‘Cow of Prophecy’ spread far and wide. The farmer started charging people to gawp at the stranded cow and her new calf, leaving them at the top of the tower for five days while he raked in the cash.
Sadly, Fairburn Tower is now in a terrible state, but there’s a glimmer of hope for its future. The Landmark Trust is raising money to restore the building to its former glory, and if they reach their target, the tower will become a holiday home for us all to enjoy.
We’ve popped the link to @landmarktrust‘s plans for the tower, plus information on how to donate, in our bio. We’ll leave it there until tomorrow, for those who are interested in discovering more about how to save this historic building (not sponsored, we’re just passionate about supporting their great work!)
📸: Highland calf (cropped) by prill via iStock.