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Who owns Scotland? Here's the next five in our top 20

TODAY, The Scotsman continues its series on who owns Scotland. We reveal five more of the 20 biggest landowners in the country.

Today's list is dominated by wealthy families who have historically had control of much of the land in the country. However, it also shows the rise of community ownership.

11 Stras Uibhist – 93,000 acres

AS OWNER of the South Uist Estate, Stras Uibhist manages 93,000 acres of land covering almost the whole of the islands of Benbecula, Eriskay and South Uist, plus other small islands in the Hebrides.

It is a community venture set up after a protracted campaign by the 3,000 predominantly Roman Catholic South Uist residents to take control of the island.

When it bought the islands for 4.5 million from a sporting syndicate in 2006 it was Scotland's biggest community land buyout to date.

The buyout was the most successful example yet of the effects of Holyrood's Land Reform Act of 2003, which gave community groups first refusal on large tracts of land that came up for sale and has helped them to force sales.

Stras Uibhist describes itself as "a vibrant and forward-looking estate," and is home to more than 850 tenant crofters and numerous businesses.

One well-known feature is the oldest golf course in the Outer Hebrides, designed by Old Tom Morris, who worked on the Old Course at St Andrews.

Equal 12 Donald Angus Cameron - 90,000 acres

THE clan chief of the Camerons comes from one of the greatest aristocratic families in Scotland.

At the battle of Culloden, the then clan chief, also Donald Cameron, led the famous Highlander charge that reached the Hanoverian lines, the only fleeting success of Bonnie Prince Charlie's army on the fateful day. Afterwards, in hiding, he and his men continued the resistance and helped the prince escape. Cameron died in exile in France.

The nickname of the Jacobite Cameron, Gentle Lochiel, came from the family's estate in the Lochaber region of the Highlands near Fort William which it owns to this day and makes up the bulk of the family landholding. The family seat is at their castle in Achnacarry.

For the national Homecoming next year, the clan chief has

called an international gathering of Clan Cameron, from 30 July to 2 August, at Achnacarry. A commemorative Cameron Clansmen Oak Grove will be planted at Achnacarry before the gathering, and trees may be donated in honour of Cameron clansfolk or their ancestors.

Equal 12 Countess of Sutherland – 90,000 acres

ELIZABETH Millicent Sutherland, the 24th Countess of Sutherland and Baroness of Strathnaver, is also head of the Sutherland clan. As her title suggests much of the family property, which is partly owned by a trust, is in Sutherland, across sparsely populated land.

The family seat is still the stately home and former castle of Dunrobin which has its origins in the 1300s and is situated at the heart of the family estates.

Historically, the Sutherland clan supported the Hanoverian claim to the throne against Bonnie Prince Charlie and in 1745 the castle was stormed by Jacobites forcing the duke to flee.

Sutherland estates have diversified in recent times from the hunting and shooting enjoyed in the past. There are now seven golf courses, including Royal Dornoch and one of the championship links used for the Open.

The family also has an agreement with Scottish Natural Heritage for a National Nature Reserve on the shores of Loch Fleet, popular with painters, walkers and anglers.

14 Vlissengen family – 87,000 acres

PAUL van Vlissengen was an eccentric Dutch businessman, conservationist and philanthropist who used part of his fortune to buy the Letterewe Estate in north-west Scotland.

He used the estate to push some of his ideas on conservation and restoring natural heritage, turning it into a game reserve along the lines of similar schemes on his properties in Africa.

In Scotland this included controversial attempts to re-introduce lynxes and wolves.

He was also ahead of the game in Scotland for promoting the right to roam. His Letterewe Accord gave ramblers the right to walk across his estates before legislation allowing this generally in Scotland was passed by MSPs in Holyrood.

He was said to love his times in Scotland and was known to saddle up a pony with supplies and disappear into the hills.

He never considered himself to be the owner of the estate, always describing himself as its guardian.

He died on 21 August, 2006 from pancreatic cancer.

He left the Letterewe estate to his daughters, Alicia and Tet, and their children.

15 Seafield family – 84,500 acres.

THE current family patriarch is Ian Derek Francis Ogilvie-Grant, 13th Earl of Seafield, who owns much of the family estates.

The Seafield property can be found in the lowland district of Cullen on the Moray Firth and Strathspey in the North-east.

Unlike many England-based Scottish landowners, the current earl and countess live in Scotland, at Old Cullen in the old county of Banffshire, now part of Moray, where Lord Seafield is active in management of the estate.

The Seafield title was bestowed on the family in 1701, and they are one of Scotland's oldest aristocratic families, with an important part in its history, not least for the creation of the Seafield Highlanders.

In recent years, the Seafield family has tried to diversify their land use from traditional hunting and shooting. Several rural businesses have been set up and there have been efforts to manage the environment and promote conservation.

The main part of Cullen House dates from 1543. The house and estate buildings were converted into 14 dwellings in 1983.

 
 
 

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