RESIDENTS of the Carloway Estate on Lewis – site of the famous Callanish standing stones – have officially taken control of the estate following a community buyout.
Islanders voted by 254 to 86 in favour of the buyout in a postal ballot held last year. There was a turnout of 67.6 per cent.
This has to be seen as the first step in a process that we hope will see prosperity, development, and long term benefit for the residents of Carloway EstateKenny Maclennan
Fewer than 1,000 people live on the 11,400-acre estate, which is owned by the Galloway family and includes Callanish, Breasclete, Tolsta Chaolais and the townships of Doune, Kirivick and Knock.
The ballot was the first time 16 and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote on plans for a community buyout.
In total, the £180,000 buyout comprises 11,400 acres of land including the area around the iconic 5,000-year-old Callanish stones, which are owned by Historic Scotland and not part of the buyout.
The area also includes the famous Dun Carloway, an Iron Age broch.
Kenny Maclennan, chair of the Carloway Estate Trust, said: “Today signifies a great step forward. We have been on a three-year journey which proved to be exciting, challenging and hardworking but we have now achieved the goal that the community entrusted us with, and we see it as a great achievement.
“This has to be seen as the first step in a process that we hope will see prosperity, development and long-term benefit for the residents of Carloway Estate.
“We have been in the fortunate position of having a willing seller, and I would like to thank the Galloway family for their professional approach to the entire process.”
The community have taken on their first employee to look at ways to develop the estate and deliver new income to allow for community projects for the trust and other organisations within the Carloway estate.
Mr Maclennan added: “We also realise that the real work starts now, but we are delighted to have come through the process with a successful outcome, and one the community voted for.”
A spokesman for the Galloway family said: “As the Carloway Estate Trust embraces its new challenges, we hope that the new management regime will bring prosperity, stability and development to the community and its residents.”
A community celebration event is due to take place in Breasclete hall on 6 June.
The main monument at Callanish dates back to around 3,000BC. Lewis at the time was populated by Stone Age farmers who lived in small villages dotted around the Outer Hebridean islands. It is believed that stone circles like Callanish were used for ceremony and ritual over many centuries.
The 5,000-year-old Callanish standing stones were also visited by Pixar executives during their research for the film Brave.