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Fearn Airfield, Control Tower

Control Tower (20th Century)

Site Name Fearn Airfield, Control Tower

Classification Control Tower (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Hms Owl; Loans Of Rarichie

Canmore ID 114466

Site Number NH87NW 21.01

NGR NH 84794 76158

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Fearn
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NH87NW 21.01 84794 76158

Fearn Airfield control tower is situated in a cultivated field within the perimeter track on the NE segment of the airfield. The four storey tower has been deliberately damaged internally, with holes punched in partition walls to discourage its use as living space. The top storey is inaccessible due to the removal of the ladder or stairs. Little survives internally apart from some benches and the remains of the room partitions. The stumps of the balcony rail are still in place and on the roof, the remains of a wind sock is still in situ, though whether this is an original is not known.

Immediately to the rear are the remains of a nissen hut and small generator house along with the foundations of one or two other brick built buildings, one of which may be the ablutions block.

The tower is a four storey naval type, others being known to survive in Shropshire and Hampshire. The construction of the tower must have occurred sometime in 1942 when control of the airfield was transferred from the RAF to the Royal Navy.

The majority of this type of control tower were built by the Royal Marine Engineers to standard designs and the construction of the walls was in a mixture of solid brick, and reinforced concrete, with air watch office being built of reinforced concrete or wood (Francis 1996)

Visited by RCAHMS (DE, PM) January and May 1997.


Standing Building Recording (28 September 2012)

NH 8479 7615 A desk-based assessment and building survey were undertaken on 28 September 2012 of the control tower, Fearn Airfield (former HMS Owl), in advance of development.

The control tower is a standard RNAS four-storey structure, one of only two surviving in Britain, and the only one in Scotland. The bricks of the load-bearing brickwork are half-frogged commons, stamped ‘NIDDRIE’. These were produced in a large works near Edinburgh, which was active until 1991.

The construction of the lower walls is of c350mm brickwork supporting concrete floor slabs apparently cast in situ. From the second floor upwards a reinforced concrete frame replaces the brickwork, with block work or brick infill panels. The concrete floor slabs of the first and second storeys are cantilevered out to form balconies to the SW elevation, extending for short distances along the NW and SE elevations.

In one room pencilled marks show where a light switch was intended to be placed, and presumably dates from the construction of the building. In the same room are a crayon profile of a man’s head, with later comments around it, a crude drawing of an aircraft, and the name ‘James Kilpatrick Ltd’.

Two other standing buildings were also recorded: a brick built generator house and a Nissen type hut of brick and asbestos concrete. Hollows and mounds in the grass-grown area around the tower may indicate the remains of other buildings.

Archive: HAS. Report: Highland HER

Funder: Charlotte Seddon

Lynne McKeggie, Highland Archaeology Services (LM)

Pete Higgins, Archaeology North Ltd


(Source: DES)


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