Croft (land)

A croft is a fenced or enclosed area of land, usually small and arable, and usually, but not always, with a crofter's dwelling thereon. A crofter is one who has tenure and use of the land, typically as a tenant farmer, especially in rural areas.

Shetland crofthouse museum
The Shetland Crofthouse Museum, with peat stacked outside


The word croft is West Germanic in etymology[1] and is now most familiar in Scotland, most crofts being in the Highlands and Islands area. Elsewhere the expression is generally archaic. In Scottish Gaelic, it is rendered croit (pronounced [kʰɾɔtʲ], plural croitean [ˈkʰɾɔtʲʰən]).

Essentially similar positions have been the medieval villein and the Swedish torpare and Norwegian husmenn.


The Scottish croft is a small agricultural landholding of a type which has been subject to special legislation applying to the Highland region of Scotland since 1886.[2] The legislation was largely a response to the complaints and demands of tenant families who were victims of the Highland Clearances. The modern crofters or tenants appear very little in evidence before the beginning of the 18th century. They were tenants at will underneath the tacksman and wadsetters, but practically their tenure was secure enough. The first evidence that can be found of small tenants holding directly of the proprietor is in a rental of the estates of Sir D. MacDonald in Skye and North Uist in 1715.

The first planned crofting townships in the Outer Hebrides were Barragloum and Kirkibost (Great Bernera) which were laid out into 32 large "lots" of between 14 and 30 acres in the uniform rectangular pattern that would become very familiar in later decades. This work was carried out in 1805 by James Chapman for the Earl of Seaforth.

The first edition of the Ordnance Survey in 1850 clearly highlights the division of this land and the turf and stone boundaries built by the first tenants in 1805 are still in use today as croft boundaries. Kirkibost was 'cleared' of its tenants in 1823 and the 1850 mapping clearly shows roofless ruins on each parcel of land. The township was however re-settled in 1878 following the Bernera Riot four years earlier using exactly the same division boundaries set out in 1805.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom created the Crofters' Act 1886, after the Highland Land League had gained seats in that parliament. The government was then Liberal, with William Ewart Gladstone as Prime Minister. Another Crofters' Act was created in 1993 (the Crofters' (Scotland) Act 1993). The earlier Act established the first Crofting Commission, but its responsibilities were quite different from those of the newer Crofters Commission created in 1955. The Commission is based in Inverness.

Crofts held subject to the provisions of the Crofters' Acts are in the administrative counties of Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire, Inverness-shire and Argyll, in the north and west of Scotland. Under the 1886 legislation (the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act) protected crofters are members of a crofters' township, consisting of tenants of neighbouring crofts with a shared right to use common pasture. Since 1976 it has been legally possible for a crofter to acquire title to his croft, thus becoming an owner-occupier.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives crofters the right to buy their land.

See also


  1. ^ From Old English croft, enclosed field, app. corresp. to Dutch kroft, krocht, prominent rocky height, high and dry land, field on the downs. Ulterior etymology unknown. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd. ed., 1989
  2. ^ Chambers's encyclopaedia: a dictionary of universal knowledge for the people. Volume 3 (revised ed.). W. and R. Chambers. 1901. p. 575. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  • This article incorporates text from "Dwelly's [Scottish] Gaelic Dictionary" (1911). (Croitear)

External links



Achfrish is a hamlet situated towards the southeastern part of Loch Shin on the north side of the Loch in Highland, Scotland. It is also part of the wider community of Shinness which is made up of Achfrish, Tirryside, Achnairn, Colabul, Blairbuie and West Shinness. Achfrish is on the hill overlooking Loch Shin with views of Ben More Assynt to the West and Ben Klibreck to the North. Achfrish is approximately 4 miles from the larger village of Lairg (in the county of Sutherland) which has a selection of shops, primary school and doctor's surgery. Secondary education is catered for in the coastal towns of Golspie and Dornoch.

Business in the area include Woodend Caravan and Camping site in Achnairn, Highland Farrier Company in Achfrish, Sutherland Pottery in Achfrish, Baby at Sones an internet business in Tirryside, Sutherland Shellfish and Game in Achnairn and many small-scale crofter (farmers) breeding sheep and cattle. Tirryside, Achfrish and Achnairn form a loop road off the A838.

The area is a crofting community made up of mainly detached and semi-detached houses, some of these are holiday homes which are occupied for just a few weeks a year.

The prefix Ach is shortened from Achadh, meaning agricultural holding or field.


Highland Farrier Company available at: [accessed 9-10-2012]

The Falls of Shin visitor centre is approximately 10 miles away, at certain times of the year it is possible to watch the salmon leaping up the waterfall from the viewing area. Further information: {accessed 1-3-2012]

Ferrycroft visitor's centre located in Lairg, please see: [accessed 1-3-2012]


A blackhouse (Scottish Gaelic: t(a)igh-dubh [t̪ʰəˈt̪u]; Irish: teach dubh) is a traditional type of house which used to be common in the Scottish Highlands, the Hebrides, and Ireland.


Caithness (Scottish Gaelic: Gallaibh [ˈkal̪ˠɪv], Scots: Caitnes; Old Norse: Katanes) is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area of Scotland.

Caithness has a land boundary with the historic county of Sutherland and is otherwise bounded by sea. The land boundary follows a watershed and is crossed by two roads, the A9 and the A836, and one railway, the Far North Line. Across the Pentland Firth ferries link Caithness with Orkney, and Caithness also has an airport at Wick. The Pentland Firth island of Stroma is within Caithness.

The name was also used for the earldom of Caithness and the Caithness constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (1708 to 1918). Boundaries are not identical in all contexts, but the Caithness area is now entirely within the Highland council area.

Caithness is one of the Watsonian vice-counties, subdivisions of Britain and Ireland which are used largely for the purposes of biological recording and other scientific data-gathering. The vice-counties were introduced by Hewett Cottrell Watson who first used them in the third volume of his Cybele Britannica published in 1852. He refined the system somewhat in later volumes, but the vice-counties remain unchanged by subsequent local government reorganisations, allowing historical and modern data to be more accurately compared. They provide a stable basis for recording using similarly-sized units, and, although grid-based reporting has grown in popularity, they remain a standard in the vast majority of ecological surveys, allowing data collected over long periods of time to be compared easily.

Flora and fauna of the Outer Hebrides

The flora and fauna of the Outer Hebrides in north west Scotland comprises a unique and diverse ecosystem. A long archipelago, set on the eastern shores of the Atlantic Ocean, it attracts a wide variety of seabirds, and thanks to the Gulf Stream a climate more mild than might be expected at this latitude. Because it is on the Gulf Stream, it also occasionally gets exotic visitors.

Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 is an Act of the Scottish Parliament which continues the process of land reform in Scotland following the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. It is notable for granting Scottish ministers the power to force the sale of private land to community bodies to further sustainable development in the absence of a willing seller.

List of Statutory Instruments of Scotland, 2004

This is an incomplete list of Scottish Statutory Instruments in 2004.

Scottish Land Court

The Scottish Land Court is a Scottish court of law based in Edinburgh with subject-matter jurisdiction covering disputes between landlords and tenants relating to agricultural tenancies, and matters related to crofts and crofters. The Scottish Land Court is both a trial court and an appeal court; hearings at first-instance are often heard by a Divisional Court of one of the Agricultural Members advised by the Principal Clerk. Decisions of the Divisional Court can be appealed to the Full Court, which will consist of at least one legally qualified judicial member and the remaining Agricultural Member. Some cases are heard at first-instance by the Full Court, and these cases may be appealed to the Inner House of the Court of Session.

The Chairman of the Scottish Land Court is ranked as a Senator of the College of Justice, and is required to be meet the same eligibility criteria as a Senator. The Scottish Land Court has a legally qualified Deputy Chairman, with several Agricultural Members. The Agricultural Members (also called "practical Members") are lay (not legally qualified) members of the Court with significant experience of agriculture. They deal with many crofting cases, and sit in the Divisional Court, where they are supported by the Principal Clerk as legal assessor. However, the decisions of the Divisional Court rest with the Agricultural Member. The Court holds hearings throughout Scotland, and cases can be heard before a divisional court (consisting of one of the Agricultural Members), or the full court (consisting of the Agricultural Members and the legally qualified members.)

The court was established on 1 April 1912 under section 3 of the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911, which was amended by the Scottish Land Court Act 1993. As of April 2017 the Chairman of the Scottish Land Court was Lord Minginish, who was also the Gaelic-speaking member of the Court, as required by Section 1(5) of the Scottish Land Court Act 1993.

Scottish Vernacular

Scottish Vernacular architecture is a form of vernacular architecture that uses local materials.


A shieling (Scottish Gaelic: àirigh), also spelt sheiling, shealing and sheeling, is a hut, or collection of huts, once common in wild or lonely places in the hills and mountains of Scotland and northern England. The word also refers to a mountain pasture used for the grazing of cattle in summer, implying transhumance between there and a valley settlement in winter.

Upper Lybster

Upper Lybster is a scattered and crofting village, situated 2 miles north of Lybster, in eastern Caithness, Scottish Highlands and is in the Scottish council area of Highland.

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