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The Poor Had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland and How They Got it [Kindle Edition]

Andy Wightman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £14.99
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Book Description

Who owns Scotland? How did they get it? What happened to all the common land in Scotland? Has the Scottish Parliament made any difference? Can we get our common good land back? In The Poor Had No Lawyers, Andy Wightman, author of Who Owns Scotland, updates the statistics of landownership in Scotland and takes the reader on a voyage of discovery into Scotland's history to find out how and why landowners got their hands on the millions of acres of land that were once held in common. He tells the untold story of how Scotland's legal establishment and politicians managed to appropriate land through legal fixes. From Robert the Bruce to Willie Ross and from James V to Donald Dewar, land has conferred political and economic power. Have attempts to redistribute this power more equitably made any difference and what are the full implications of the recent debt-fuelled housing bubble? For all those with an interest in urban and rural land in Scotland, this updated edition of The Poor Had No Lawyers provides a fascinating analysis of one the most important political questions in Scotland - who owns Scotland and how did they get it?

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Product Description


A book that no one working in property in Scotland should be without --Property Week

'Brilliantly researched, extremely well written and shocking in its detail' --John Burnside, Sunday Herald

'It is historical and oh-so contemporary and, perhaps, in these exciting times, a call to arms' --Laura Marney

'It is historical and oh-so contemporary and, perhaps, in these exciting times, a call to arms' --Laura Marney

About the Author

Andy Wightman was born in Dundee and gained a degree in forestry at Aberdeen University. He has worked as a ghillie, environmental scientist, and an environmental campaigner before becoming a self-employed writer and researcher in 1993. He is the author of several books and a prominent analyst and critic of land reform process. He lives in Edinburgh.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3402 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn; New edition edition (18 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006WB2E9Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,141 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By Geejay
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first got interested in who owns Scotland after meeting a less than friendly landowner and a couple of similarly miserable gamekeepers while out hill walking. Every Scot knows that the country is owned by a small group of individuals who have exercised nothing short of despotism over "their" land and the people on it. In this book Wightman lays out in forensic detail how this all came about, starting with King David and subsequently more fully developed by the national hero, Robert the Bruce, whose credentials as saviour he comprehensively debunks. Kings (or chief warlord) decided they held all the land and handed it out to supporters to keep them onside, and removed it if they fell out. Several of the great landowners of today, such as Buccleuch, came about their huge holdings in just this way, as Buccleuch's website makes clear.

Wightman points out that the distribution of land by this means was fundamentally undemocratic, but worse was to follow as the aristocracy, who to all intents and purposes, was the "government", created laws that enabled them to steal land from the Church and, later, from the common people and subsequently to legalise this theft. You might think that such theft would by now be outlawed, but no, it is still possible to steal land belonging to someone else or "no-one", or is Common Good. The Law and lawyers have been culpable in enabling this grotesque charade in which the vast majority of Scotland was transferred into the ownership of a small clique, who benefitted from arcane and archaic laws, such as primogeniture .
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely essential reading 19 Oct. 2011
This is the sort of history we didn't get taught in school; probably because it has the capacity to stir the emotions at the way the Scottish poor became the Scottish dispossessed poor. It's fascinating reading, but it's also enough to make you want to storm the barricades!
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
This is a refreshing, original, challenging and important analysis of contemporary Scotland, its past, present and future.

It will challenge many of your most central assumptions. That land ownership and land reform are about rural areas. That this has nothing to say about Glasgow and Edinburgh. That Scotland is an egalitarian country, unlike class-divided, hiearchical England. That the days of feudalism and power acting with impunity are long over.

Wightman is an expert on land ownership, but he and this book are about much more. In short, what he is addressing is how power is exercised in Scotland; in our past and to this day. The forces of reaction - from feudal barons to the present day 'great and good' constantly usurp others rights, taking from the commons and individuals.

And what Wightman beautifully challenges - in detail - is the Scots blindness to this because of our old comfort story of being an egalitarian nation. What this has masked is that Scots dont want to face up to issues of power, privilege, abuse and exclusion. Yes we love going on about some mythical wrong done to a group in the far distant past, but real misuses of power - involving complexity, the abuse of the law and due process - well forget it.

This is an important book on every level, and a book I am proud Andy has had the time and inclination to write. It is up to the rest of us to begin a national debate about what to do about it.

Gerry Hassan
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great interesting book 13 Jan. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book that I have now completed reading with Kindle as before I found the size of type too small.
However even with Kindle there is a problem with the additional tables etc which are still too faint and in too small font to read. Lucky I have a magnifying glass and the original book!
PS I do not generally consider my sight to be a problem!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most important Scottish book 26 Jun. 2013
By Bekah
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an incredible feat and outlines the highly outrageous elite ownership of Scotland and how this was achieved through centuries of cynical land grabs. The book may be hard going but there is a lot of important legal information here and it is an academic level book written by an academic. Hopefully this will become the issue within Scotland that it deserves to be (largely because of this book) and that people from both urban and rural Scotland will start to question and claim back control over what was stolen.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 21 Oct. 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well!.... It would be hard to better the first review, which must presumably have been written by one of Mr. Wightman's best mates. But I am not going to disagree, this is a masterful, scholarly, meticulously researched book which should sit on every bookshelf in Scotland, right next to Tom Johnstone's "Our Scots Noble Families".

Having waited a very long time to read this book, I was spellbound. However a word of caution for "kindle" readers. Some of the maps, charts etc are incredibly detailed but on a kindle they are "awfy wee" and of course they are in black and white. Given the stature of this important book I now intend to buy a hardback copy. People will still be reading this book in 100 years.
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