Hard living: A history of crofting

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Crofting was the outcome of the Highland Clearances when tens of thousands of people were evicted and moved to small plots on difficult-to-cultivate land in return for an annual rent.

Communal “townships” were formed, sharing grazing. However, life was harsh, with rent rises and evictions.

A potato famine in the 1840s led to protests and demands for legal protection, resulting in the Crofters’ Act 1886, giving security of tenure.

The crofting acts passed since then have provided measures including protection from being unfairly removed from the land, fair rents and compensation claims for improvements should a tenancy end. In 1976, tenants were given the right to buy their crofts.

Crofting law was codified as the Crofters (Scotland) Act of 1993, but there have been substantial reforms, notably in 2007 and 2010.

A definitive map-based Crofting Register was also established, determining who exactly had rights and responsibility for land.