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'Having and Holding' - The Highland Land War of the 1880s

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Ian Bradley examines the driving forces behind the crofters' attacks on the deer forests of Skye and Lewis.

Early on the morning of November 22nd, 1887, the sound of a hunting horn summoned nearly 1,000 of the inhabitants of the Isle of Lewis from their beds to a pre-arranged rendezvous at the edge of a large deer park on the southern tip of the island. Over the next three days they camped illegally in the park and shot more than 200 of the 600 deer there. Seven weeks later, on January 9th, 1888, a similar number of men from the north of the island marched on a sheep farm in the Eye peninsula near Stornaway. Those animals which they did not succeed in driving into the sea they crippled by breaking their legs with clubs. Policemen and marines who arrived on the scene were pelted with stones and the raiders were only dispersed after being confronted at bayonet point by a detachment of the Royal Scots Regiment.

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