Identifying, documenting and restoring Scottish Commons
The Commonweal Project was launched by the Caledonia Centre for Social Development in early 2002. The aim of the project is to raise awareness and promote practical action to restore Scotland's commons to those to whom they belong. This is being done by a process of identifying, researching and documenting the range of commons that exist and providing advice and assistance to those actively engaged in attempts to restore Scottish commons.
The project is also publishing a growing series of Working Papers on common property rights in Scotland and will act as a repository for a range of other material relating to common property in Scotland. Read more on the Commonweal Project.....
The scottishcommons.org website is designed to help you identify, document and restore Scottish Commons. Here you can find information on all sorts of Scottish Commons including extensive research on Common Good Land in Scotland.
WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR COMMONS?
They were stolen. Here is what Professor Cosmo Innes (1798-1874), the famous advocate and Professor of Constitutional Law and History in this Department wrote in his book, Scotch Legal Antiquities: -
“Looking over our country, the land held in common was of vast extent. In truth, the arable - the cultivated land of Scotland, the land early appropriated and held by charter - is a narrow strip on the river bank or beside the sea. The inland, the upland, the moor, the mountain were really not occupied at all for agricultural purposes, or served only to keep the poor and their cattle from starving. hey were not thought of when charters were made and lands feudalised. Now as cultivation increased, the tendency in the agricultural mind was to occupy these wide commons, and our lawyers lent themselves to appropriate the poor man’s grazing to the neighbouring baron. They pointed to his charter with its clause of parts and pertinents, with its general clause of mosses and moors - clauses taken from the style book, not with any reference to the territory conveyed in that charter; and although the charter was hundreds of years old, and the lord had never possessed any of the common, when it cam to be divided, the lord got the whole that was allocated to the estate, and the poor cottar none. The poor had no lawyers.”