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To Restore the Land to the People and the People to the Land1

The emergence of the Not-for-Private-Profit Landownership Sector in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

Graham Boyd, January 1998, The Caledonia Centre for Social Development

This paper was first published in the Scottish Journal for Community Work and Development, Volume 3, Spring 1998.


This article spans 150 years of organised not-for-private-profit land efforts in the Highlands and Islands. It unfolds the hidden history of community and conservation approaches to land ownership in the region.

bulletThe early phases of these practical attempts to own and manage land began with the pre-co-operative club farms and smallholding land purchase schemes that arose during the period 1840 to 1890.
bulletThe setting up of the first community land trust in the 1920s followed this.
bulletIn the 1930s the out-door-recreational movement successfully purchased a number of estates of national scenic importance and bequeathed them to the Nation.
bulletThis was followed in the mid-1970s by a variety of voluntary conservation owners securing a number of significant properties of wildlife importance.
bulletIn the 1980s and 1990s a diverse range of new community owners has emerged.

This article sets out to relocate and reconnect the path-breaking, first community initiatives of crofting land trusts and community buyouts of the 1990s into the wider perspective of social history. It attempts to link the rediscovery in the 1980s and 1990s of community and common ownership approaches with the past efforts of a movement that has struggled for a long time against both the forces of private capital and the failure of government to take timely action.

Social ownership of land in the hands of civic organisations is now emerging as the radical alternative to both the lottery of private ownership and the benign bureaucratic state.


bulletThe Chartist Land Plan provides the inspiration and model
bulletThe Islay Scheme
bulletThe Land League emerges
bulletEditors, Agitators and Social Mobilisers
bulletThe Commercial Land Company
bulletGrasping Opportunities: the first Community Land Trust
bulletThe Mountaineers tackle some unfinished business
bulletThe emergence of the Not-for-private-profit landownership sector



The subject of community and voluntary organisation ownership of land in the Highlands and Islands has an old and varied history. Records show that groups of concerned individuals were actively promoting common ownership ideas from around the middle of the 19th century – ‘The Highlander’ and ‘Oban Times’ newspapers. These approaches differed from early communal landownership concepts, which were based upon the Celtic system of clan law. With the failure of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and the ensuing decades of military pacification, the region’s subsistence economy and social structures were finally incorporated into the network of British capitalism. This paved the way for the conversion of clan lands to private ownership in the hands of the clan chiefs. The relationship between clan chief and people became that of capitalist landowner and tenant. It led to the classic rural system of peasant extraction and exploitation based upon the dual instruments of economic rent and tied labour. Over the next 150 years, Highland land use was transformed by the improving schemes of factors and agents whose primary purpose was to extract the maximum profit from the land in the interests of themselves and the Lairds. The wholesale conversion of large parts of the Highlands to a resource colony for external utilisation by iron-masters, ship builders, the kelp industry, the sheep industry and finally its conversion from 1840 onwards into deer forests is testimony to the forces of capitalist production that have exploited the region. The chaos and social destruction that the rural population was subjected to is documented through the history of eviction, emigration, rent strikes, land raids and other forms of social resistance. What is not so well known are the early practical attempts to develop community approaches to land ownership through club farms and schemes to purchase land for subdivision into smallholdings.

Club Farms

With the decline in the sheep industry from 1840 onwards, groups of crofters across the region began pursuing the idea of club farms. The club system combined the principles of collective and individual occupation of the land. The communal ownership lay in the possession of a sufficiently large stock of sheep to employ a full-time shepherd to tend to the animals on the common grazings while the individual responsibility lay in the management of a permanent holding on the arable land. Few crofters possessed enough capital to take over the lease of large sheep farms. It was however, possible for some of them to organise themselves along co-operative lines and purchase stock for moderate sized farm holdings. At various times between 1840 to 1890 over 20 club farms operated in the region. What the system of club farms did show was that crofters did indeed attempt to participate in the new economic order based on sheep farming by using a co-operative approach. However their ability to do so was limited. The often-hostile attitude of factors and lairds ensured that access to land was denied and this, combined with crofters limited access to capital, ensured that collective schemes were difficult to promote.

The Chartist Land Plan provides the Inspiration and Model

Though unsuccessful in achieving their objectives two early land purchase initiatives are worth examining - the Islay Scheme of 1847 and the Commercial Land Company of 1875. These initiatives represented the first attempt in the Highlands to use a legally incorporated body in the form of a shareholder company to enter the private land market with a view to purchasing sporting estates for re-distribution to smallholders. They are described in pages 3 and 4.

Both schemes were directly influenced by the land purchase scheme devised in 1846 by the Chartists and called the Land Plan. The Chartists movement was a social movement that aimed to reform Parliament in the interests of working people. The movement’s membership was primarily urban. It was based upon the educated working and radical middle classes and the industrial towns of the north of England were the main centres of its support. Its leaders had from the early 1840s extolled the economic possibilities of dividing up large estates into smallholdings for re-distribution to urban and rural workers. Land reform was the movement’s means of achieving this. However, at their National Convention in 1845 they added a practical experiment to their campaigning programme and launched a proposal to form the Chartist Land Co-operative Society. The purpose of this co-operative society was to purchase estates and subdivide them into smallholdings. Or, as the Co-operative Land Society put it:" To purchase land in order to demonstrate to the Working Class of the kingdom the value of land, as a means of making them independent of the grinding capitalist"2 . The Convention backed the venture and took the decision to apply for registration under the Friendly Societies Acts. They were refused registration and in 1846 decided instead to seek registration of the National Co-operative Land Company as a shareholder company with the Registrar for Joint Stock Companies. During the registration process the name got amended to the National Land Company.

The National Land Company

Last year was the 150th anniversary of the launch of the most ambitious collective land ownership venture ever attempted in Britain. The vision, scale and social mobilisation process initiated by the Chartist movement under what has come to be known as the Chartist Land Plan has many lessons for today’s community land activists and reformers. The National Land Company was launched in 1846 and during its three years of existence, it attracted some 70,000 subscribing shareholders organised into over 251 branches throughout the British Isles. The company purchased five estates covering 1100 acres in total and constructed 280 cottages and four schools. To increase the company’s capacity and speed up the purchase of further estates it needed to overcome the practical difficulty of raising substantial sums of capital. Owing to the company’s members being primarily the skilled working class they were only able to make small subscriptions on a monthly basis. To overcome this obstacle the company established in 1847 the National Land and Labour Bank. However, despite this initial promising start the company ran into a series of financial and legal difficulties. The movement’s leaders and the activities of the company became the focus of a hostile press. A lengthy parliamentary inquiry ensued and the company was closed down in 1851. In recent years few lessons have been drawn from this early experiment in co-operative land ownership. Its significant features were that it was urban in origin, motivated by the concepts of self-help, mutual assistance and self-reliance and was part of an organised movement with a network of local branches. Its subscribers were the educated working class who wished to secure for themselves and their families access to land as a means of securing a better life free from the exploitation of the urban slum and the tyranny of factory work. They did not seek to return to the land to become subsistence peasants but wished instead to pursue small scale trade and manufacture controlled co-operatively at their own hand.

The Islay Scheme

The man behind the Islay Scheme and one of the leading supporters of the Commercial Land Company was John Murdoch. Murdoch was born in Ardclach in Nairnshire in 1818 and spent his life working as an exciseman. His work took him to various parts of Scotland and also to Ulster and Lancashire. During the early 1840s he was working in Lancashire which was one of the principal centres of the Chartist movement. As a radical he was familiar with the Chartist’s programme. In 1845 he was transferred to Islay and when the owner of the island Walter Campbell was declared bankrupt and subsequently died the estates were placed in the hands of trustees. In 1847 Murdoch devised the Islay scheme as a means of assisting the population of the island avoid the threat of eviction by any new owner.

The Islay Scheme

" It was while the Islay estates were in the hands of trustees that I drew up a plan for the sale of the properties. I had in view the setting up of a peasant proprietary in Islay and leaving, after all debts were paid, 20,000 acres to the late laird – of the annual value of 2000 or 3000. The population, which was to be provided for then, was 15,000. So I proposed that 120,000 acres out of the 140,000 should be laid out in 3000 lots averaging 28 acres – of which 12 should be arable. I founded my scheme for the sale of a large part of the island on the supposition that men would buy small portions and be able in time to pay the price at the rate of some 5 an acre."

The estate trustees did not favour the scheme and the property was sold to a new laird. The new owners reduced the population of the island during the next 15 years from 20,000 to 8,000 through eviction and emigration.

The Land Leagues emerge

During the next fifty years a wide variety of campaigning organisations emerged whose primary purpose was to reform the land tenure system and laws of the UK. The Land and Labour League was founded in 1869 and campaigned for the nationalisation of land. The Land Tenure Association was formed in the same year and included the philosopher John Stuart Mills among its members. The Land Nationalisation Society was formed in 1881 and was specifically committed to the principle of communal ownership of land. The Land Restoration League was constituted in 1883 and organised the UK tour of the American social and land tax reformer Henry George. Immediately after George’s Glasgow meeting on 18 February 1884 the Scottish Land Restoration League was formed at a meeting chaired by John Murdoch. By then he had retired from the excise service and in his early sixties had become the editor of the pro-land reform newspaper, ‘The Highlander’, based in Inverness. The League and the Highlander for the next decade used as its slogan "The Land for the People" and was an extremely effective campaigning force both in the Highlands and in Parliament.

Editors, Agitators and Social Moblisers

Murdoch was a political radical and very effective social mobiliser. He was part of a group who in 1888 founded the Scottish Labour Party eighteen years in advance of the formation the British Labour Party in 1906. His career as a rural social mobiliser in the Highlands and Islands is comparable with his Northeast contemporary William Alexander. Alexander like Murdoch was a newspaper editor. He edited the weekly ‘Aberdeen Free Press’ and mobilised the crofter, cotter and radical middle classes in the Northeast counties of Banffshire Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire during the same period. Murdoch as editor of ‘The Highlander’ used the weekly columns of the newspaper to keep the rural districts of the Highlands and Islands informed of the current situation on land agitation. Now well into his sixties he tramped repeatedly across the Highlands and Islands urging the crofters and landless cotters to organise themselves to campaign for their rights. ‘The Highlander’ then reported their spontaneous and direct actions through a network of contacts who fed the weekly columns with reports on township rent strikes, evictions, land raids and court cases. The political proceedings in Parliament and elsewhere in the country were reported by campaigners based in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London.


The Commercial Land Company

Through the columns of ‘The Highlander’ Murdoch kept promoting the idea of establishing practical ways of purchasing land for subdivision into smallholdings. In the July 3rd edition of the paper in 1875 he was pleased to report that "One of the things for which we have anxiously looked for many years, has been launched; that is, a company for buying estates, and selling them as smalls". This company was the Commercial Land Company and one of its directors was Fraser Mackintosh, the MP for Inverness Burgh and long time friend and supporter of the Highlander and Murdoch.

The Commercial Land Company

The Commercial Land Company was registered with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies in London in early 1875. It had six directors two of whom were MPs for Scottish constituencies. The company’s registered offices were in Charing Cross; London and it listed its bankers as being in Edinburgh, London and Dublin. The company aimed to raise 1 million pounds through the issue of 50,000 shares priced at 20 a share. It launched its public subscription list for the sale of shares in July. Shares could be purchased in four quarterly instalments spread over a 12-month period. The prospectus forecast that it expected to make a 7 percent annual divided to shareholders. The primary objective of the company was to purchase landed estates of all sizes in the UK (including Ireland) and subdivide them into smallholdings. It was particularly interested in estates in remote places such as the Highlands where there were opportunities to open up land through the provision of roads and other infrastructure. Subdivision for smallholdings was to be from 1 acre to a 1000 acres. The company expected to make a profit on its investments, as land was seen as one of the safest investments. Six months later the Highlander reported with considerable disappointment that the company’s public share subscription had failed to achieve its investment target and therefore did not have sufficient capital to float. The company was wound up.

Grasping Opportunities: The First Community Land Trust

Though none of these earlier collective land schemes succeeded in their objective of purchasing land for conversion into smallholdings they do illustrate that the campaigners, radicals and social mobilisers of the 19th century attempted to implement a number of practical schemes based upon self-reliance and mutual assistance. It was not until the early 1920s with the departure of the Soap Baron and industrialist Lord Leverhume from the Isle of Lewis that the Stornoway Trust was formed. It was the first land trust in the region and is probably unique in the UK, being the only small town whose land ownership is entirely in the hands of the community.

The Stornoway Trust, Mrs Thatcher’s Poll Tax and the extension of democratic control

Owning to the collapse of Lord Leverhume’s ambitious fisheries and agricultural development schemes for Lewis and Harris in the early 1920s the opportunity for the first community land trust emerged. The wee soap mannie (Bodach an t-siapuinn) was defeated in his grand plans through a combination of peasant resistance and the withdrawal of banking credit. At the time the Islands were in a state of civil unrest with numerous land raids by ex-soldiers recently returned from the First World War. They were demanding that Leverhume’s farms be broken up and rented out as smallholdings. Leverhulme at first refused to meet the crofters’ demand to break up the farms but later changed his mind and in a generous gesture offered the whole of his Lewis and Harris estate to the inhabitants of the Island as a gift. The crofting landward districts turned down his offer of outright ownership due to the very specific problems that crofters faced when they became sole proprietors under the then prevailing Crofting legislation. However, the Stornoway Town Council voted to take up the opportunity and in 1923 the Stornoway Trust was created by Deed of Trust passed in Parliament. The estate covers some 64,900 acres and comprises the whole of the parish of Stornoway and a small part of the neighbouring parish of Lochs. It has 45 crofting townships containing 1,347 crofts and includes the town of Stornoway with its housing and its industrial outskirts. Today the estate has a rural population of 7,500 and an urban population of 6,000. In recent years the legal structure of the trust has had to be amended. The first amendment was due to the 1974 re-organisation of local government that did away with the Stornoway Town Council and introduced the all-purpose island council, Comhairle nan Eilean. To avoid the loss of local control, the trustees who had previously been the elected town councillors changed to an electoral system based upon the Property Valuation Roll. This opened the Trust up for the first time to a process of direct elections based upon all those whose names appeared on the valuation roll. It meant that while the owner, or tenant, of a property had a vote, the rest of the family did not. Mrs Thatcher’s Poll Tax brought the next significant change to the way in which trustees were elected by abolishing the rating system. This removed the Valuation Roll as the basis for voter eligibility. The Trust then took another important democratic step and changed its Deed of Trust to enable all citizens resident on the estate and who are on the Voters Register to have a vote in the election of trustees. The Stornoway Trust is now one of the most democratically accountable community land trusts in the UK.

The Mountaineers tackle some unfinished business.

The 19th century Trespass Act and the various Game Laws that legitimised the rights of landowners to restrict the movement of citizens wishing to gain access to uncultivated moorland and mountain in Scotland created a powerful sense of public grievance. In addition to restricting many traditional rights that the rural population had enjoyed they created a great deal of resentment amongst the growing urban membership of amenity groups and recreational clubs. Cross-country running, mountaineering and hill walking clubs were particularly active in campaigning to have the concept of freedom to roam enshrined in law. In the 1880s and 90s members of these clubs in conjunction with key figures from the Land League spearheaded a public and parliamentary campaign to have the Trespass and Game Laws altered.

 " The time has come when we must assert what we believe to be the paramount rights of the nation. If anyone says that is dangerous to the rights of property, I will answer by saying that the real danger comes from the selfish and reckless, and even perverse and spiteful, use of the rights which the law has allowed. If there is any danger to property, it is because persons have declined to recognise the reasonable and equitable limitations within which those rights ought to be exercised."

James Bryce MP (Aberdeen South), Access to Mountains (Scotland) Bill, House of Commons Speech 4 March 1892.

The campaign for freedom to roam was unsuccessful but during the following decades the number of people going to the hills increased as did the membership of walking and mountaineering clubs. The tension between hill goers and sporting estates during the grouse and deer stalking seasons was a constant reminder of unfinished business. In the early 1930s a number of sporting estates came onto the market in the climbing mecca of Glencoe and the mountaineers rallied behind a nation-wide appeal to purchase the properties. Two estates were purchased and gifted to the National Trust for Scotland to look after in the interest of the nation. The mountaineers and hill walkers had entered the land market and were to do so repeatedly on a number of occasions during the next sixty odd years.

The Mountainous Country Fund

During the 1920s many mountaineers and hill walkers had been active in campaigning for the establishment of National Parks. When it became clear that the Government was not prepared to act, many involved in the National Parks movement lent their support to the newly formed National Trust for Scotland as the next best practical option. In 1935 Lord Strathcona put the Glen Coe estate on the market. This estate included some significant climbing grounds and under the direction of Arthur Russell, Logan Aikman and Percy Unna who were active members of both the Scottish Mountaineering Club and the National Trust the mountaineers set about raising the necessary funds to buy the estate. Two years later the adjoining Dalness Forest estate came on the market and the same group led another fund raising effort, which enabled that estate to be purchased and gifted to the nation through the National Trust. Having successfully demonstrated that their collective power was able to get results and that there was a willing body to manage the properties in the interests of the nation the mountaineers went on to address the important issues of on-going management costs and future purchases. Under the leadership of Unna and other key figures in the Scottish Mountaineering Club they established the Mountainous Country Fund in 1943 within the National Trust for Scotland. To this fund mountaineers and others donated monies and left bequests. Over the next thirty years it was to become the main vehicle for purchase and through the establishment of a series of endowments a significant part of the on-going management costs of each property was assured. Some six mountain properties have been bought through the Fund covering some 60,000 acres in total. Two key motivating factors which forced the hill users to collectively enter the land market were the failure of successive governments to address the issue of public access and their unwillingness to pass the necessary legislation to protect scenic landscapes. Successive governments’ failure to curtail and intervene in the private rights of sporting estate owners prompted practical civic action by the hill users. They did not want to own and manage land but wished only to enjoy uninterrupted access to the hills. A novel solution was found. The National Trust for Scotland became the vehicle for gifting important mountain properties to the nation.

The Emergence of the Not-for-private-profit Landownership Sector

Some twenty-three Not-for-private-profit (NFP) organisations own, lease or manage by agreement around 5 percent of the Highlands and Islands’ land area – some 506,725 acres. Since 1980, both the number of NFP organisations and the size of their land holdings has more than doubled. Many of the larger NFP owners are national voluntary organisations and this provides the sector with a UK wide membership of over 1.2 million members and an annual turnover in excess of 85 million. The scale of the NFP sector as outlined in the above example cases has enabled three particular sub groupings to evolve: voluntary conservation ownership, crofting trust ownership and small community-based group ownership.

Four national voluntary conservation organisations (RSPB, SWT, JMT 3 and the Woodland Trust) entered the region’s land market between the mid-1970s and 1980s. They joined the National Trust for Scotland who had been active in the region since the 1930s. All of these organisations have pursued a policy of acquiring land of national and international significance to nature, landscape and heritage conservation. Much of this land was formerly held as large estates primarily for sport hunting. The change from sporting use to nature conservation, landscape enhancement and woodland regeneration has led to new investments in the properties resulting in an increase in employment and the opening up of the estates to visitors. Benefits have also accrued to local businesses, in particular tourism, estate and forestry contractors and local suppliers.

Community ownership in the region in the 20th century commenced in 1923 with the Stornoway Trust, described above as one of the cases. During the next fifty years community land ownership as a practical solution to perceived social and economic issues failed to establish any new land holdings until 1973 when the Hoy Trust in Orkney was formed. The innovative Dalnavert Community Co-operative who were pioneers in the concept of small group ownership followed this in the early 1980s. A resurgence of interest in the concept of community land ownership in the early 1990s has enabled new groups to form and rediscover older initiatives. This recent upsurge has resulted in a variety of different types of community landowners emerging in the region. The most prominent type in this new wave of NFP landowners has been the crofting trust, of which Assynt Crofters, Borve and Annishadder Township and Melness Crofters are perhaps the most widely known. The best known of the small community-based groups are the Laggan Forestry Trust, Abriachan Forest Trust and the Culag Community Woodland Trust who have all emerged to address rural development forestry issues.

Most recently, partnership approaches comprising community-based groups, Highland Council and voluntary conservation organisations have been formed as an innovative means of purchasing more diverse and expensive properties – the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust and the Knoydart Foundation. The Eigg Heritage Trust has recently successfully pioneered this approach by purchasing the island from its absentee owners. Meanwhile the Knoydart Foundation is in the process of mounting a purchase bid for the Knoydart estate.



These NFP land initiatives can be compared with the state sector (Forest Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage, Dept. of Agriculture, etc) whose land holdings comprise just over 14 percent (1.4 million acres) while the private estate sector owns some 80 percent (8.1 million acres). Knowledgeable land researchers suggest that if the NFP land ownership trends of the last 15 years continue at their current rate the sector will easily double its size by the year 2010. However, this estimate does not take account of the likelihood of a Scots Parliament for whom land reform will undoubtedly be a piece of unfinished business the addressing of which will be popularly welcomed by many communities. This is because Scotland as a whole has one of the most concentrated patterns of land ownership in Western Europe. Some 50 percent of the country’s land area is controlled by just 600 owners. In the Highlands, this pattern of ownership is even more extreme with some 85 privately owned estates accounting for about a third of the total land area. This situation results in various barriers and obstacles being placed in the way of development. Examples of these include difficulties in obtaining land for housing, commercial use, industry, community facilities and recreational access to river, woodland, moor and hill. In addition new entrants seeking entry to land industries such as crofting, horticulture, farming and rural development forestry have specific difficulties with regard to accessing land. Any land reform package will therefore greatly assist in the expansion of the patterns of community and voluntary sector ownership. This social ownership sector is therefore likely to play an important role in extending and diversifying land ownership patterns in Scotland but particularly throughout the Highlands.

A powerful citizens’ land owning sector has emerged in the region. It can with some pride trace its history back to the first organised efforts of crofters and land reformers who struggled to establish club farms and land re-settlement schemes just over a 150 years ago. However, for the Not-for-private-profit land ownership sector to exercise significant power in the field of rural development the various strands of the movement will need to come together of their own choosing and form a democratic federation. The creation of such a people’s organisation representing the aspirations and views of community and voluntary sector organisations across the country is a necessary counter power to that of the existing landed establishment. One of its key purposes would be to challenge the dominant position in Scottish society of the Scottish Landowners Federation, which for almost 90 years has exercised power on behalf of the landed elite and other powerful rural interests.


References have been listed by paragraphs.


Carter, I. (1974) The Highlands of Scotland as an Underdeveloped Region, in De Kalt, E. and Williams, G. (editors), Sociology and Development, London, pp279-314.

Marx, C. (1976) Capital, Volume I, Pelican editon, London.

Grigor, I.F. (1979) Mightier than a lord: The Highland Crofter’s Struggle for Land, Acair, Stornoway.

Hunter, J. (1976) The Making of the Crofting Community, Donald, Edinburgh.

Macphail, I.M.M. (1989) The Crofter’s War, Acair, Stornoway.

Prebble, J (1974) The Highland Clearances, Penguin, London.

Club Farms:

Carter, I. (1971) Economic Models and the Recent History of the Highlands, Scottish Studies, Vol.15, Part II pp 99-120.

Orr, W. (1982) Deer Forests, Landlords and Crofters, Donald, Edinburgh.

Chartist Land Plan provides the Inspiration and Model

MacAskill, J. (1967) The Chartist Land Plan, in Briggs, A. (editor), Chartist Studies, Macmillan, London.

The National Land Company

MacAskill, J. (1967) The Chartist Land Plan, in Briggs, A. (editor), Chartist Studies, Macmillan, London.

The Islay Scheme

Murdoch. J (1986) For the People’s Cause, Hunter, J. (editor), HMSO, Edinburgh.

The Land Leagues emerge

Grigor, I.F. (1979) Mightier than a lord: The Highland Crofter’s Struggle for Land, Acair, Stornoway.

Macphail, I.M.M. (1989) The Crofter’s War, Acair, Stornoway.

Editors, Agitators and Social Moblisers

Alexander. W. (1992) Rural Life in Victorian Aberdeenshire. Carter, I. (editor), Mercat Press, Edinburgh.

Murdoch. J (1986) For the People’s Cause, Hunter, J. (editor), HMSO, Edinburgh.

The Commercial Land Company

Murdoch. J. The Highlander newspaper, 3rd July 1875 and 8th January 1876 editions, Inverness.

The Stornoway Trust, Mrs Thatcher’s Poll Tax and the extension of democratic control

MacDonald, C. (1991) Life in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, AUP, Aberdeen.

Thompson, F. (1986) Land in Community Ownership: 60 Years of the Stornoway Trust, in Hulbert, J. (editor), Land Ownership and Use, Andrew Fletcher Society, Dundee.

The Mountaineers tackle some unfinished business

McOwan, R (1993). No Boundaries for Bryce, The Scots Magazine, December 1993, NS Vol. 139, pp 592-601.

The Mountainous Country Fund

McOwan, R. (Undated) The Man Who Bought Mountains, National Trust for Scotland, Edinburgh.

Wightman, A (1997). Do we want Scotland’s finest landscapes controlled by a benign dictatorship, Scotland on Sunday, 23 February 1997.

The Emergence of the Not-for-private-profit Landownership Sector

ERM Consultants (1996) Assessment of the Social Economy in the Highlands and Islands, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Inverness.

INC (Independent Northern Consultants), (1995) Assessment of the Direct Employment Impact of Environmental Activity in the Highlands and Islands, HIE and SNH, Inverness.

Wightman, A. (1996a) Organisational Profiles: Not-for-Profit Landowning Organisations in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. (Mimeo), HIE, SNH and Highland LIFE Project, Inverness.


Wightman, A. (1996a) Organisational Profiles: Not-for-Profit Landowning Organisations in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. (Mimeo), HIE, SNH and Highland LIFE Project, Inverness.

Wightman, A. (1996b) Who Owns Scotland, Canongate, Edinburgh.


1.  The title is from the banner used by the Land Nationalisation Society founded in 1881.

2.  First Representation of the Select Committee of the National Land Company, 1846.

3.  RSPB: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (founded in 1889). It is the largest voluntary

conservation organisation in Europe with over 950,000 members. It manages some 130 wildlife

reserves in the UK covering some 230,000 acres.

SWT: Scottish Wildlife Trust (founded in 1964 ) It has over 15,000 members and manages over

28,000 acres in Scotland.

JMT: John Muir Trust (founded in 1983) It has some 5,000 members and owns 35,000 acres in the Highlands.


The assistance of David Reid from the Caledonia Centre for Social Development in the preparation of this paper is acknowledged.  


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