Open Land in Scotland and Ireland

My previous posts  on common land only refer to England and Wales as the systems in Scotland and Ireland were completely different. Here is some more from Lord Everley’s Commons, Forests and Footpaths

“Commons of this manorial type …do not exist in Ireland or Scotland. All the land in those countries, even where uncultivated and incapable of agricultural improvement, belongs to individual private owners, except so far as the recent Irish and Scotch Lands Acts have conceded rights of pasturage over adjoining mountain lands. With rare exceptions there are now no rights of comon vested in adjoining owners, which can be used to protect the land from inclosure, and to prevent the owners of the soil excluding the public from it. Hence it arises that the Scotch landowners have been able to turn their moors into deer forests, and to prohibit the public from traversing them, or ascending the hills in search of the beauties of nature and fresh air. The explanation is that Ireland and Scotland were not subjected to the Saxon and Norman Manorial systems, under which Manors, with their Lords and free and copyhold tenants, were created. The change from collective, tribal, or clan ownership of land to individual proprietorship was made without any transition, such as occured in England under the Feudal system. Had these countries passed through the same experience it is almost ceretain that the occupiers would, at an early period, have been treated as the copyhold tenants were in England, and have had conceded to them fixity of tenure, with rights of pasturage and tubary over the adjoining mountains and moors; and the owners of such uncultivated lands would have had their ownership qualified by the rights of adjoining owners, as was the case with Lords of Manors in England. “

All of which is very interesing to the Brits, but this has had a huge impact beyond these islands. The powers of the Scottish and Irish landlords means that they were able to evict their tenants, hence this led to the Highland Clearances, and when the potato crop failed in Ireland, they had no duty to care for them as was the case in England, so shipped the starving peasants on ships, dumping them in the New World where locals had to feed and care for them instead.

In other words, if the Saxons and Normans – ie French had invaded/settled in these two islands, it is unlikely that the NYPD would be full of Irish descendants, there would be no St Patrick’s Day parades, and the music industry in America and Canada would be really, really  boring. Not just the Irish elements, the Highlanders took songs about being homeless and looking for the promised land, which is at the heart of the blues. It also explains how people like Donald Trump are able to buy up such huge swathes of Scotland.

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