Isle of Eigg Trust Launch Address 25-10-91
[click here to go down direct to the start of the address]
[go down to original Isle of Eigg Trust's manifesto]
[an account of the Eigg community land ownership campaign]
[the official Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust website]
An edited version of this address was published shortly after delivery in the West Highland Free Press. The full text, as it appears here, was published in The Edinburgh Review, Edinburgh University Press, No. 88, 1992, pp. 158-162 - in a special issue edited by Murdo MacDonald and devoted to the work of Patrick Geddes and contemporary resonances to his theme of "folk, work and place."
to this Document
25 October 1991 three of the four founding trustees of the original Isle of Eigg
Trust (Bob Harris, Tom Forsyth and myself) held a public meeting on the Isle of
Eigg to ascertain whether we really had the mandate that we believed we had in
carrying out an advocacy role in the islanders’ struggle with their landlord.
This resulted in a secret ballot subsequently organised by the Residents’
Committee. 100% of the island’s permanent residents participated in it and
gave a 73% vote in favour of the Trust proceeding. In 1994 islanders had
developed a sufficiently strong voice for outside advocacy to be no longer
necessary. Accordingly, we stood down as trustees and the residents elected 8
trustees of their own choice. (I was asked to stand, and was duly elected,
thereby giving continuity with the previous work of the trust.) In 1997, the
year in which Eigg finally came into community ownership, the functions of the
original Isle of Eigg Trust were subsumed by the new Isle of Eigg Heritage
Trust, which was set up as a company limited by guarantee and designed to
include representation of Highland Council and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, as
well as island residents. As of 2000 the original trust still exists on paper,
but only at present to fulfil the residual function of handling remaining deeds
of covenant etc. (most of the donations were collected through the original
trust, as the new one was not up and running in time to do this). The management
of the island is not, however, part of the original trust’s work, this being
the responsibility of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, details of which may be
found on its website.
text is based on the address delivered in the company of other trustees by
Alastair McIntosh of the Isle of Eigg Trust. Some two-thirds of the people of
Eigg attended the three-hour long public meeting on Friday 25th October 1991.
Afterwards the community agreed to discuss the concept amongst themselves and
respond in due course. The
discussion which followed the address was encouraging. One fisherman, who lives
on the island in a caravan because he does not have land, came up the next
morning and gave £100. He said he really hoped for his sake and others like him
that the Trust's objectives might be fulfilled.
A similar donation has been received from the Rev. John Harvey, Leader of
the Iona Community. Most of the Trust's expenses to date have been paid for by
the trustees, particularly by Tom Forsyth taking on dry stane dyking work.
Contributions are much needed and should be sent to Elisabeth Lyon at ... [no longer
applicable - thank you].
gentlemen and children,
is not without a certain sense of impertinence that we
our credentials to you this evening. We have, as
know, formed a charitable trust in the name of this
Consultation beforehand was informal, not least
some had expressed reservations about speaking
in view of future ownership uncertainty.
a cost so far of some £3,000 and many hours of work on
of myself, Bob Harris, Elisabeth Lyon and above
Tom Forsyth, we have brought our proposal to a stage
we hope it can be weighed by you and considered as
alternative model for land ownership on Eigg.
you I need hardly outline the history of land ownership
this part of the world. Since the Clanranalds first
their role as stewards and in exchange for £15,000
to treat this island as a market commodity in
it has changed hands eight times and is now under a
order to be sold again. Some ownership regimes, like
present one, have been relatively benign and even
Others, remembered by some present tonight,
been described to us as "like living under enemy
way, the inhabitants of Eigg today, like those of
much of Scotland, have legal status akin only to
value in matters of "real" estate. "A collector's
is how onelaird described the Isle of Eigg to me
A collector's item, indeed, which can be bought
sold without reference to the interests of those whose
paint their meaning here. An
or investment opportunity, or rich man's playground.
collector's item! This, where disused houses crumble
young men, women and children live in caravans.
crofters have had to wait years or spend large sums
legal fees to procure freehold over their small plots.
no-one knows who will be the next laird, hoping only
the highest bidder might show more generosity towards
than was perhaps evident during the accumulation of
massive personal wealth.
this is not just Eigg. It is the condition of much of
Highlands and Islands today. The
economic masquerade. For example, tourism, one of
few growth opportunities for cottage industry, too
becomes controlled by estates which convert homes
summer timeshare. Those who belong to a place get
out, leaching community.
to the poor quarters of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Govan, and
where too many of our people live now. Oh yes, the
ones have done sufficiently "well" sometimes to
their roots, but many of the names on doors of
living in the high rise flats and "priority
estates are Highland. Folk for whom
of being uprooted, by direct clearance or by
of access to nature's sustenance, has given
to the spectre of poverty across generations.
home on the Ullapool ferry recently I had the
of meeting one of our former teachers at the
Institute. I had happened to have
part of Jim Hunter's book on crofting history where he
that Leurbost, where I grew up as the doctor's
had resettled some of the hundred or so families
in South Lochs. I asked this teacher WHY we had
been taught this. Remorsefully, he
replied that it
not in the curriculum, is still largely excluded from
curriculum, and is the sort of painful history people
think I hear the cry of the children till this day",
one Lewis crofter of the clearances in Uig of the
My friends, which amongst us can not hear that cry
as we view rural caravan dwellers and the peripheral
of contemporary Scottish cities? Is it not time
us, like other indigenous peoples of the world, to
restitution for the historical usurpment of our
We lament about native American peoples as
in "Dances With Wolves". What
course, we are told that such "idealism" lacks economic
Perhaps these critics should spend time on
off Shetland, or Scoraig, near Dundonnell. Both are
crofting communities. Each shows that quality
life does not require a profligate standard of living.
any case, as the economic hubs of the world roll their
towards ecological suicide, are we really to be fobbed
with the suggestion that lifestyles based on
intoxication, nuclear umbrellas, agricultural
degradation, land expropriation from the powerless
unjust trade relations with the Third World are
can we in Scotland do about it? First, I suggest, we
remember. We must remember in the
way that those
cairns on Knoydart, or at the sites of land grabs
Lewis are presently helping us to do. As with personal
health, repression of a culture's past only
anger and sadness¨ inwards to deaden the soul.
carcinogen is more powerful than oppression
to the point that a community blames itself
for disempowerment, disfunction and under-
So let us start by re-membering. But let us
so mindful of the curative role which forgiveness must
play. Only forgiveness breaks the knock on
of oppression re-perpetuating itself.
we can engage in re-visioning. We must envision what
could become ... sorting out the realistic
the phantasy and asking what kind of a people we want
be. Are our values primarily those
of market forces,
do we stand for values to do with place, culture and
dare we re-claim? Can we, as in the words
by Moses, "proclaim the liberation of all the
of the land ... a jubilee for you; each of you
return to his ancestral home ... Land must not be
in perpetuity, for the land belongs to me...."
of you on Eigg may think private ownership by a
benevolent laird would be in your best interests.
the lottery of ownership falls favourably, this could
so. But even then, is there not something about such
which quietly disempowers a community? You
when Lord Leverhulme earlier this century promised
crofters a fishing fleet, a fish cannery, railways,
power, a garden city, steady work, steady pay
beautiful homes, the response which won the day was,
are not concerned with his fancy dreams that may or
not come true! What we want is the and and
I put to him now is: ill you give us the land?.
restitution is much of what the Isle of Eigg Trust
for. We are four people of humble means, but with
awareness of history, concern for the state of the
sound track records in rural and community
and a love of Scotland and our own people. The
we offer are not overflow from the grail of
wealth. Rather, they are opportunities to
full community. Opportunities which, let it
said, lie sleeping in the taproot of existing
Opportunities not of a selfish nature, but for
of living which could be of growing importance to
"developed" world faced with a spiritual crisis of
and ecological bankruptcy.
are not claiming that most people today can live
from the land on a smallholding! Rather, our
is that having an opportunity to live with the
deeply enriches human life. It can release creativity
many forms, including economic entrepreneurship. Here
a font of true viability.
the Trust acquire ownership of Eigg, the main thing
offer is security of tenurefor those who lack it. We
that new land holdings are made available to those
need, including current estate
emigres who wish to return and other suitable
- gradually and in limited numbers.
further undertake that decisions about such matters
be made within the terms of the Trust deed by the
and management committee representative of the
(I personally undertake to resign as a trustee
this not be effected to the satisfaction of a
of the resident community.)
this trust offers the prospect that when a future
asks your children who owns Eigg, they will reply,
a German factory magnate, English pop star, Swiss
Saudi oil sheik, Dutch syndicate, aristocratic
racing car driver, insurance company or any other
of "laird", but simply, "Us ... held in trust for
is the vision which, for all its tentative nature, we
before you tonight. That this island, this "jewel of
Hebrides", could become a turning point in Scottish
ownership. That Eigg could become a
children playing around us now can more readily
lives which find wealth in the richness of human
through the land and sea, in self-directed
and local self-determination, in songs of the old
and in all that can derive from assuming full
for community growth.
before we can undertake further advocacy in building
it is important to hear clearly your voices. Is
we have outlined tonight and placed in the Trust
something you wish and would uphold? In
remember that continued private ownership
bring benefits which I have not highlighted, whereas
would require community effort and by no means
a halcyon era.
we have done is to create a trust in waiting.
used for charitable purposes while waiting, but
we seek your endorsement for its primary
- to try and remove the island, forever, from the
of private ownership.
know that the current owners, Mrs Williams and Mr
are not without sympathy for this cause.
have expressed qualified support. We call for more
that. We ask that they hear the pain which continued
uncertainty causes, and consider facilitating
primary objective of the Isle of Eigg Trust. This
be a gesture with little precedent. A
setting right ancient wrongs. A gesture of
even, of belonging.
The Original Isle of Eigg Trust Manifesto
When the original Isle of Eigg Trust was launched on 23 July 1991, 500 copies of a manifesto were printed and circulated to island residents, the press and wellwishers. The text had been drafted mainly by Elisabeth Lyon (who financed its printing), Robert Harris and Tom Forsyth, with Alastair McIntosh being involved initially as an adviser but then as a trustee.
“This basalt island is one of high potential fertility which has been
allowed to go almost to dereliction … most of the Eigg crofters are now
elderly and the future of the island as a crofting community is precarious…
bracken is all too prevalent … the construction of a proper harbour would make
it reasonably possible for the high potential of this favoured island to be
reached. Without it, there is no hope.” - F. Fraser Darling West Highland
island of Eigg is seven miles off the west coast of Scotland, 12 miles south of
Mallaig. It is part of a group of islands with Rhum, Muck and Canna called the
Small Isles which, sandwiched between Skye and Mull, form the Inner Hebrides.
The island’s 7,500 acres are arranged over three miles east-west and five
The island’s topography is spectacular and varied with a richness of
flora and fauna which has created what the Scottish Wildlife Trust has called a
naturalist’s paradise. It enjoys an equable climate. Over much of its 7,500
acres there is good deep relatively alkaline soil resulting from the weathering
of basaltic rock. Though arable cropping is now almost non-existent, good crops
of corn and roots have been harvested in the past. With appropriate shelter from
the wind, a large variety of fruit and vegetables could be grown. Some high
quality sheep and cattle continue to be raised. Bracken is much in evidence and
is adversely affecting much of the better grazing land.
HISTORY OF EIGG
of all the World
is not for me,
I want, for my part,
the little white rose of Scotland
smells sharp and sweet - and breaks the heart!
history of Eigg is, in part, a history of the whole of Scotland. It may not have
stood in the mainstream of events but it has caught all the backwash and
contributed not a little of its own. Prehistoric man settled Eigg as did the
early Christians and Vikings. It provided a base from which the Lords of the
Isle rose to power and later came under the aegis of the Clanranald chiefs and
was caught up in their piratical clan wars. Men from Eigg supported the Jacobite
cause. When it was suppressed, the Clanranalds - their power gone and fortune
spent - sold Eigg. During the 19th century, it was owned by a series of
extraordinary industrial barons who lavished their money on the island. Today,
modem life and taxation have produced a new approach to island-owning and
living.” Judy Urquhart writing in Eigg, Canongate, published 1987.
“A perfectly secluded island of the Old World, the very beautiful
island of Eigg.”
In 1828 the Clanranalds sold Eigg to Dr. Hugh Macpherson for £15,000.
In 1893 the Macpherson family sold the island to Lawrence Thompson.
In 1917 it was sold to Sir William Petersen, a Dane.
In 1925 Sir Walter Runciman bought it from Petersen’s executors for £15,000. At his death it passed to his son, Sir Steven.
In 1966 Sir Steven Runciman sold it to Captain Robert Evans, a Shropshire landowner for £82,000.
In 1971 he sold itto Bernard Farnhum-Smith for £120,000. In 1975 Keith Schellenberg bought it for £250,000.
In 1989, after a protracted legal suit with his former wife, he was ordered by the Court of Session to sell it.
estate consists of 6,000 acres, the Lodge. an Italianate country house built by
Sir Walter Runciman, the estate farm and various other buildings. Most of the
islanders live at the north end of the island and where they farm 1,500 acres
exempt from the freehold of the estate.
present focus of The Eigg Trust is to purchase the property, either outright or
to participate in a joint purchase with another trust with compatible aims.
Exploratory talks to this end have already taken place. To pay for this, the
Trust will seek gifts of money from individuals or foundations or any other
agencies sharing its aims and willing to support it financially.
NEED FOR THE TRUST
“We are an obscure poor people though formerly of better account,
removed to a remote corner of the world, without name, and without alliances.”
- Lord Belhaven, speaking against the Treaty of Union in Parliament House, 1706.
clan system - clann means family in
Gaelic - while giving the clan chieftain dominion over his people also charged
him with the responsibility of looking after them. The Act of Union of 1707 and
the subsequent crushing of the rebellion to it of 1745 resulted in the demise of
this complex thousand-year old social structure without putting anything in its
place. The clan chiefs became the landowners with the lower ranks having no
rights whatsoever. This resulted, of course, in the Clearances of the 19th
century and the Crofting Act was an attempt to give small farmers security of
tenure. In the 19th century, imperialist success funded individuals with
colonising aspirations who often took on the responsibilities abandoned by the
clan chiefs, with varying consequences for the condition and culture of the
the 20th century has seen the gradual extinction of the kind of wealthy
individual who is prepared to use his power without hope of financial gain on
his investment. So it would seem obvious that there is an urgent need for a kind
of land-ownership which did not set up a conflict of interest and instead served
a community of interest.
AIMS OF THE TRUST
Trust seeks to aid the development of the whole fabric of island life so that it
may become one community. The security of tenure which at the moment only the
crofters have would be extended to all inhabitants who took leases of property.
The Estate Farm would be run on a profit-sharing basis. A Housing Association
would be considered a natural development. The present population would be given
due consideration in any planning development with representatives given the
opportunity to influence all decisions affecting their lives.
is estimated that the population of Eigg could rise to 200. An increase of this
size would greatly add to the scope of the internal trading of labour and/or
it is realised that visitors form a valuable source of income for the islanders,
the Trust would encourage visitors to participate
in the renewal of the island’s life.
present, the island is served by one year-round ferry service, four days a week
from Mallaig, operated by Caledonian MacBrayne, and a seasonal service from
Arisaig on the MV Shearsvater run by Arisaig Marine. EEC grants are available
for the improvement of the harbour and pier. Under the present system,
passengers and goods have to be transferred from the CalMac ferry to a launch to
be brought ashore which presents difficulties and dangers even in reasonable
reduce the number of vehicles and items of machinery on the island, the Trust
would encourage and organise public transport and haulage systems. It would also
encourage the formation of machinery syndicates and cooperatives amongst those
working on the land. An engineering workshop would be set up.
Clerk of the Grazings Committee would be invited onto the body to be set up and
manage the everyday running of the Trust’s affairs on Eigg.
is proposed that a Community Hall would be a valuable asset, providing greater
recreational facilities, especially in winter, meals for old people, laundry and
possibly a creche.
is thought grants would be available from various local authorities and the
Trust itself would consider funding such a project (which would also be of
benefit to all residents and visitors to the island).
would be given to improve housing for those old people who do not qualify for
local authority grants.
planting for amenity, shelter and firewood would be encouraged.
N.B. When a crofter plants a tree, whether on his croft
or on common grazing, at the moment that tree is technically owned by the
landlord. It is hoped that the Crofters Forestry Bill at present in progress
through the House of Commons will change this.
is proposed that a Life Centre should be set up on Eigg using the Lodge as the
nucleus with additional buildings and workshops being added as necessary. The
idea of the Life Centre would be to teach practical and craft skills to people
seeking some sense of balance in urban life. (It is envisaged that bank managers
would enroll to learn dry-stone dyking, admen would shear sheep, and lawyers
muck out the byre...)
well as providing courses in the arts and crafts, the Life Centre would explore
and experiment with alternative power sources, permaculture* and other
appropriate technologies for use on the island.
properties could be retained for staff and families of those involved in the
Estate Farm and Forestry would be run on a profit-sharing basis with
opportunities for part-time work.
director would be appointed to co-ordinate the various aspects of the Trust’s
*Permaculture is a term derived from “permanent
agriculture” by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren which describes what is green
and good with minimum input of energy and minimum output in terms of waste.
John Muir Trust
approach has been made to the John Muir Trust which met with a helpful and
positive response. Two areas of the island would be kept wild: The Sgurr and Ben
Buidhe and the eastern coastline.
are already three wildlife reserves under the care of the SWT. There are seven
SSSIs. The intention of the Trust would be to respect these areas and to further
conservation with such activities as native woodland plantings.
area to the south of the Sgurr, where an ancient cross was found, could be
designated a retreat area. There is a possibility of rebuilding the black houses
in the area - as such.
primary school exists. With more children, development is proposed along the
lines of Scoraig in Wester Ross, Hartland in Devon.
would be a very important part of the Trust’s activities. A survey would be
made of existing properties and surrounds with the intention of creating a
number of new holdings giving scope for gardens, in-bye and possible tree
holdings would give their owners security of tenure with individual
responsibility for improvement of properties. A valuation would be made of each
property and the incomer due to pay an agreed value though payment could be
spread over years and labour could be used in lieu. A rent equivalent to that of
a similar croft would be paid. Any change of tenancy would need approval by the
new housing would be sanctioned where necessary if and when further holdings
“Thousand acre farms are commonplace nowadays and land holdings are
getting bigger and bigger. Yet time and again studies have shown in England and
America, that the bigger the holding. the smaller the production of food per
We should put pressure on successive governments to make land available
to people who are prepared to train themselves to use it, and prepared to live
on it, and grow food on it seriously. And then we should put pressure on these
governments to alter the planning laws in order to give every citizen the right
to build his own home on his own land: the right of the robin or the wren.” -
John Seymour, Getting it Together, Michael Joseph 1980.
Crofters Holding Act of 1886 which was described as “the Magna Carta of the
Hebrides” heralded not so much a new era but actually perpetuated small
uneconomic holdings and succeeded in insulating crofting from the mainstream of
agriculture. Crofting land was both unproductive and unprofitable; the islands
desperately needed some new development but were given stagnation.
a landowner myself after all
have twelve acres of
at the back
My Properties, Kenneth White
held by trust for the common good is not a new idea in Scotland.
by Deed of Trust in 1924 by Viscount Leverhulme the Stornoway Trust manages
64,000 acres of Lewis, including the town of Stornoway, Lewis Castle and well
over 1,000 crofts. The Stornoway Trust also encourages settlement.
Secretary of State for Scotland currently proposes that the Crown-owned estates
of Skye and Raasay be sold. One option considers their transferance to Community
The Arkleton Trust (Research) Ltd
Paper on the Possible Disposal of the
of State for Scotland’s Crofting Estates to
Ownership - June 1990
points of interest:
Para 3 The Secretary of State regards it as anachronistic that he should
continue to own and administer as landlord large tracts of land when the purpose
for which the land was required has long since been achieved.
Para 13 f. Should the approach being proposed by the Secretary of State
also be considered by other crofting landlords.
Section Five, p.21
5.1 It is worth recording that currently the DAFS estates are being held
in a form of community ownership … in the person of the Secretary of State for
5.2 On the positive side, this has meant that the beneficial interest of
the landlord has been exercised without fear or favour in respect of any narrow
local interest. On the negative side, this has excluded any sense of local
responsibility. It is natural that thought should now be given as to how
responsibility can be identified more locally.
5.3 The most direct precedent
for local community ownership is The Stomoway Trust which was set up in 1924 as
a conventional trust, but since 1875 has effectively been a body corporate
incorporated by Act of Parliament. The aims of The Stomoway Trust emphasise the
Trustees’ management role in respect of the Stomoway Estate.
8.1 A transfer of the ownership of land is now likely to slow down such
improvements (to crofting incomes) and may, if the members of the Trust see
themselves as trustees of the local community, assist agricultural progress. In
addition though it could be expected and could be required to initiate and
encourage all forms of development on its estates which were likely to provide
jobs, increase income or otherwise the maintenance of the present crofting
communities. The Trust’s contribution to development would be primarily
through its ability to make land and associated rights available.
8.2 . . . views on non-agricultural development potential: sport,
tourism, fish-farming, and associated household trades. “In each of these,
development potential is limited at present and no one activity seems likely to
provide a substantial increase in job opportunities or incomes. Rural
development, however, is by definition diverse and on a small scale. An
important point is that virtually all the activities mentioned depend in some
way on the access to land or water resources. The active co-operation and
support of the owners and occupiers of the land is thus essential; moreover, an
income based on a new use of the land may also accrue to the landowner. An
obvious example of this is the provision of the new house sites. In practice,
the price paid for such sites within a crofting community is often shared
between the occupier (the crofter) and the landlord. A community trust which
acquired the ownership of the land would have a strong incentive to encourage
developments which increased its own income and/or brought obvious benefits to
those it represented - the crofters.
8.3 We have no evidence that DAFS ownership has inhibited any
developments in the past and, therefore, conclude that too much should not be
expected in the way of new developments from the transfer of ownership itself.
Nevertheless, our view is that ownership and control by a local community trust
would be likely to provide a local means of implementation of new developments.
12. The Secretary of State would welcome views on the principle of
transferring ownership of crofting estates to a Trust or Trusts and on the basis
of which any such transfer might be made. In seeking views on the issues set out
in this consultation paper the Secretary of State recognises that, if there were
to be a measure of agreement on the principle and broad basis of transfer, many
points of detail would require to be considered and decided before legislation
could be enacted and implemented.
threat of climatic change, the squandering of non-renewable resources, a world
population rising inexorably, the abuse of land, the destruction of forests, all
the present and impending crises, coupled with an increasing dissatisfaction
with materialism and the spiritual emptiness of the age have contributed to a
growing desire to create a way of life, more meaningful and healthier than that
offered by much of the contemporary world.
common conviction of the Trustees is that the island of Eigg represents an
eleventh hour opportunity to arrest the decline and disappearance of a
civilisation which successfully practiced living in harmony with nature. Celtic
culture survived the Romans, most notably in Ireland, but also in the more
inaccessible areas of Western Europe. Through Columba’s grafting of the new
Christian teachings on to the traditional Celtic stalk, these ancient ideas were
disseminated by his followers back through Europe. Against Columba’s advice,
perhaps significantly, Donnan went to Eigg, where he and his entire band of
devotees were martyred. (Donnan has however given his name to no less than 14
places on the Scottish mainland).
dispute over procedure which brought the Celtic and Roman churches into conflict
was resolved at the Synod of Whitby, after which the Celtic church went into
decline, although the Episcopal Churches of Scotland and Ireland still cling
tenuously to this root.
island of Eigg, 3 miles east-west, 5 miles north-south, supports both Roman
Catholicism on the west coast and the later development of the Protestant Church
of Scotland on the east coast in peaceful co-existence.
same remoteness from the centres of conflict which fosters this toleration meant
also that the music and poetry of the people was not suppressed when elsewhere
for religious and political reasons it was banned. When Marjorie Kennedy-Fraser
went in search of the lost musical tradition of Scotland her meeting in 1908
with Kenneth MacLeod, a native of Eigg, resulted in the Songs of the Hebrides.
So uniquely, in the culture of the people of the island of Eigg, we have not
only the modem Gaelic language of every day use, but the ancient sacred language
a shoot is grafted on to an established stalk, the green of the shoot must meet
the green of the stalk. The green, or cambium, is the only living and dynamic
part of the plant. In the cultivation of human beings the same natural law must
Trust aims to be one small step towards the reapplication of this law of nature
in human culture!
the Trust’s present focus is the island of Eigg, it is hoped that this new
concept of land ownership and management could serve as a model where
appropriate in other parts of Scotland.
Last summer, I spent some time up at the re-populated isolated crofting
community of Scoraig near Ullapool and was deeply impressed by the lifestyles
being lived there which include home production of energy from windmills, trees
surrounding the crofts so that a wide range of fruit and vegetables can be
grown, and economic activity ranging from boat building and shellfish farming to
violin making, farming, craft work and specialised tourism.
One of the 80 or so people living in Scoraig is Tom Forsyth of whose
reputation I had already gained a favourable impression since he was one of my
distant predecessors employed by George MacLeod in the earlier days of the lona
Community. Tom came to me several weeks ago to outline the interest he is co-ordinating
in trying to make it possible for the island of Eigg henceforth to be owned and
managed in a way which, like Scoraig, would set a standard in human/ecological
have given Tom some support in drawing his ideas together and I know he also has
the personal support of my colleague, the Rev. John Harvey, present leader of
the Iona Community, amongst others. He has no personal financial resources
(living himself as a crofter) but he does have a concept which is supported by
many and which, I believe, is the right way to go about restoring our broken
Hebridean communities where, the Napier Commission not withstanding, people have
often been prevented from forming an integrated relationship with the
environment since the Highland Clearances.
Centre for Human Ecology
University of Edinburgh
28 December 1990
The Isle of Eigg Trust is a registered charity.
Alastair McIntosh is a founding Trustee of the Isle of Eigg Trust with Tom Forsyth, Bob Harris and Elisabeth Lyon.
For further information, please contact:
The Isle of Eigg Trust
42 Dublin Street
Edinburgh EH3 6NN
(Nb. Please do not use
this address now … it is no longer valid)
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