Crofters’ War Memorial planned on Skye

Crofting is a term that many Texans may be unfamiliar with, but is very common in Scotland. A croft is a piece of agricultural land that is rented to a tenant, or “crofter,” often on a year-to-year basis. Prior to the 1900s, very few of inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands and islands owned the land that they lived on. Most of the land was owned by a very small group of landowners. Up until 1886, these landlords were free to evict their tenants or raise the rent at any time and did not have to compensate the tenants for any improvements they had made to the land or buildings. Ultimately this allowed the landlords to systematically “clear” their lands of most of the inhabitants, by raising the rents well beyond the croft’s ability to produce a cash crop. This left the land vacant and made way for the landlords to pursue new ventures to increase the profitability of their lands.

Starting in 1877 on the Isle of Skye tenants began a movement demanding reform of the crofting system by refusing to pay his rent or leave his croft. This movement, now called the Crofters’ War, grew throughout the Highlands and islands and eventually led to the establishment of many laws designed to protect the rights of the tenants. A memorial to the Crofters’ War is now being planned by the Staffin Community Trust and Atlas Arts.

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