Assynt Crofters celebrate 25 years of historic estate buyout

The buyout by Assynt Crofters broke new ground in land ownership in Scotland. PIC: McSporran/Flickr/Creative Commons.
The buyout by Assynt Crofters broke new ground in land ownership in Scotland. PIC: McSporran/Flickr/Creative Commons.
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The 25th anniversary of the historic buyout of a Highland estate by the Assynt Crofters is being celebrated this week.

The purchase of the North Lochinver Estate in 1993 made headlines around the world and broke new ground in land reform in Scotland.

The crofters stopped the estate being broken up and sold off in small lots after its owner, a Swedish land speculator, went bust.

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This week, a series of events will be held in Assynt to mark the achievements of the crofters who led the buyout of the land and to reflect on both the past and future of land ownership in Scotland.

The Allan MacRae Memorial Debate is being held today (Wednesday, July 4) in honour of the crofter and passionate advocate of land reform who lead the buyout.

A biography of MacRae, who died in June 2013, will also be launched by author Judith Napier.

READ MORE: Community buys land from Highland Clearances estate

Fèis in the Fank, an all-night festival of Scottish music, will celebrate the anniversary with artists including Skerryvore, Blazin Fiddles, James Graham and the Skala Ceildh Dance Band leading the party.

Meanwhile, events including a hill race, a fishing competition, archaeology workshops, sheepdog handing and sheep shearing will also be held.

The deal secured by Assynt Crofters is considered to have inspired a new chapter in land ownership and inspired buyouts on the island of Eigg and the Knoydart Peninsula.

The attempt to buy the estate at Lochinver was famously described as “bordering on the lunatic” by some but the planned purchased gathered momentum as liquidators made clear their intention to buy out the land,

The Assynt Crofters’ Trust was formed and a public appeal for funds launched.

A deal was reached in December 1992. Almost half of the £300,000 was raised by the crofters and their supporters both at home and abroad.

Some donations came from those who traced their ancestors to those pushed off the land during the Highland Clearances.

Sutherland District Council and Highland Regional Council also supported the purchase with a donation also made by Highland Fund to help with the administration of the trust.