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Who Owns Scotland?

According to the Scottish government, about 57% of Scotland's land is owned privately.

Sunday, October 8, 2023
6 mins

We are grateful to Andy Wightman for permission to reproduce the following brief illustrated text which appeared as a series of Tweets on June 29th 2023.

The issue of land ownership is a fraught one of which we have scant knowledge. That is why we invite others to add to this initial offering via comments - if we receive enough feedback to justify setting up dedicated pages then we will do so. 

(Andy Wightman’s original text is emboldened.)

‘This week’s landholding of the week is Meikle Conval & the story of a stolen commonty. Meikle Conval is a 2100 acre woodland and moorland property sitting between Aberlour and Dufftown in Banffshire. It is owned today by Marjory Walker of Walker’s Shortbread family. 

In 1946, the owners of Aberlour Estate sold the commonty to North British Hotels Ltd. despite never having had title. Their only legal right was of an access to the common land. The commonty is marked here on the 1946 deed plan.

Others in the parish with rights to the common land were ignored. This is a typical means by which our ancient commons have disappeared. Legally they can only be divided by the Division of Commonties Act 1695.


In 2012, the Scottish Government stated that they had no plans to repeal this Act which, similar to England’s enclosure acts, provided a simple process for landowners to divide the commons among themselves.

For more information on who owns over 2350 holdings covering 12.8 million acres of land, subscribe to https://t.co/VHraT2GjGkwhoownsscotland.org.uk


Land Ownership Map | Who Owns Scotland

Layout 1 (andywightman.com)

‘Common Land in Scotland: A Brief Overview’

Andy Wightman, Robin Callander, Graham Boyd, December 2003

‘This paper traces the history of Scotland’s once extensive and diverse forms of common land. It provides an insight into why very little of this common land is still in existence today. The paper shows how powerful landed interests were able to appropriate the bulk of these lands into their own substantial land holdings by the early nineteenth century. A description of surviving common lands is provided together with a brief insight into current management arrangements and a summary of the key lessons from the Scottish experience. In the concluding part of the paper, a brief overview is given of the new patterns of community ownership which are now emerging and the new legislative and financial instruments that are being developed to assist this process. A set of references and Internet websites are provided for those wishing to further explore the topic.’

Andy Wightman is a Scottish Independent politician, writer, and land rights campaigner. He served as a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Lothian region from 2016 to 2021. He was elected as a member of the Scottish Greens, but resigned from the party in 2020 and served out the rest of his term as an independent.

Andy is best known for his work on land ownership in Scotland. He is the author of two books on the subject, Who Owns Scotland (1996) and The Poor Had No Lawyers (2015). He is also the founder of the Scottish Land Reform Forum and the ‘Land for the People’ campaign

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