The rise of crofting
When sheep farming was introduced, most were cleared to the coast where the landlords provided small plots of land or crofts in return for an annual rent. The land was often poor and the crofts were small. Crofters had to take on other work, e.g. in the kelp and fishing industries, to make ends meet.
The croft was a small area of rented land on which a traditional blackhouse was built. A cow or two, chickens, and a few sheep were kept. Oats and potatoes were grown on ground manured with seaweed, dung, and old thatch from the roof. Peat was cut and dried for fuel. All crofters had access to the common grazings for their cattle and sheep.
The fight for security of tenure
But crofters lacked security. They did not own the land they worked and their rent could be increased at any time. Worse still, the landlord could evict them at will. Crofters began to protest and press for legal rights to the land.
Crofters' Act - 1886
In 1883 the Government appointed a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Crofting Conditions, the Napier Report. Following the Napier Report the Crofters Commission was set up to see that crofters were given security of tenure, a fair deal on rents and compensation for any loss of land.
Today's crofting township
Traditional blackhouses have all but disappeared, replaced by solidly built two storey dwellings or modern bungalows. Small farm machinery is now widely used. A local Grazings Committee is entrusted with looking after the common grazings and see that all crofters keep to the rules.
There is a range of material available for teachers to use in the classroom specifically for this subject area.
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There is a range of materials available for teachers to use in the classroom specifically for this subject area