NB4832 : Sun setting on the Aignish Memorial Cairn

taken 9 years ago, near to Aiginis, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Great Britain

Sun setting on the Aignish Memorial Cairn
Sun setting on the Aignish Memorial Cairn
A view from the west.
Remembering the Land Heroes – Cuimhneachain nan Gaisgeach

I came across three monumental and memorial cairns in a visit to Lewis and Harris, all a tribute to the people who took action to recover their homes and livelihoods in the land struggles between landlords and crofters in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
That to the Grias & Coll Raiders [NB4639], the northernmost of the three, honours the men who suffered in the Great War [1914-18] and were promised land and homes when they returned, but the promises were not honoured. The cairn is built on the site of the confrontation between the crofters of the area and Lord Leverhulme, the owner of Lewis and Harris at the time – he planned to industrialise Lewis and opposed the Board of Agriculture’s proposals to divide farms into crofts for landless families. In March 1919 some of the biggest land raids were at Upper Coll and Cress, and land raids continued throughout Lewis until 1921, when the Coll Raiders, in spite of warnings, raided and took possession of Upper Coll, a township from which their ancestors had been evicted, and distributed the land amongst their landless families. The earthworks represent the forms of trenches and waves, symbols of promises given to ex-servicemen that they would be settled on the land after the war.
The cairn at Aignish [NB4832] commemorates and symbolises the confrontation between the Aignish Raiders and the military on 9 January 1888. The raiders, men and women of Point, were driven beyond endurance by destitution and oppression. Instead of helping, the authorities used the military to try to repel the raiders. The raiders failed to hold the farm and 13 were sentenced to prison, but the episode brought their plight to a wider audience, but it was not until 1905 that the farm was divided into crofts.
At Bailailean [NB2619] the three entrances to the cairn represent the three communities that took part in the Pairc Deer Raid - Pairc, North Lochs and Kinloch. On 22 November 1887 several hundred crofters from the Pairc townships protested at their treatment by their landlords - many townships in the area had been cleared to give more access to land for deer hunting. A large number of deer were killed and a police and marines were sent to quell what was thought to be a full scale rebellion, and the Riot Act was read by the Sheriff at Ruadh Chleit [NB2908]. Six land raiders were arrested, but acquitted at the High Court in Edinburgh in January 1888.
The three monuments were designed by Will McLean in 1994-6 and built by local stonemason Jim Crawford.
Two interesting accounts of the land struggle generally, not just on Lewis and Harris, are ‘Mightier than a Lord’ by Iain Fraser Grigor [1979], Acair Limited, ISBN 0 86152 030 0, and ‘Go Listen to the Crofters’ by A.D. Cameron [1986], Acair Limited, ISBN 0 86152 063 7, although neither specifically cover the events marked by the cairns, which were a little later.

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NB4832, 42 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Saturday, 11 May, 2013   (more nearby)
Sunday, 23 June, 2013
Geographical Context
Coastal  Historic sites and artefacts  Village, Rural settlement  People, Events 
Place (from Tags)
Isle of Lewis  Aiginis 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NB 4834 3211 [10m precision]
WGS84: 58:12.3421N 6:17.1282W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NB 4832 3210
View Direction
East-northeast (about 67 degrees)
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Other Tags
Public Artwork  Memorial Cairn 

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