Pairc Raiders Monument

Balallan, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, HS2 9PN

Type:Monuments & Ruins

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Pairc Raiders monument

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Built in 1994, the Pairc Land Raiders monument is dedicated to the memory of the people of Lochs, who challenged their landlords.

In the 1880s the owner of the Lewis estate was Lady Mary Matheson, the widow of Sir James Matheson, 1st Baronet and the second-largest landowner in Britain, who had purchased the estate in 1844.

Lady Matheson refused to listen to numerous pleas from the landless families of Pairc, who were desperate to return to their families' former villages. Instead, in 1886 she converted her husband's 42,000-acre sheep farm in Pairc into a sporting deer park.

On 22 November 1887, crofters marched into the Pairc deer forest. The authorities acted quickly in support of Lady Matheson, and a detachment of Royal Scots Guards was sent to Lewis with support from British Navy vessels carrying marines.

Sheriff Fraser read the raiders the Riot Act. The raiders dispersed as were well aware that they could not hold Pairc by force, and feeling that they had made their very public point. However, six of the leaders were arrested and sent for trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, but later aquitted.

The raiders had drawn attention to the plight of landless crofters and cottars. It took a long time for meaningful reform to the Highland land laws, but the Pairc Deer Raid and similar efforts on the islands, eventually forced changes in the law and helped re-establish the rights of crofters.

It is one of three such memorials in on this tour, designed by Will Maclean and built by Jim Crawford. The others are at Aignish and Gress.

The monument on the hillock overlooking the Lochs Road, south of Balallan, is built with stones from the ruined homes of the original land raiders. It has three entrances to an iron staircase that leads to an observation platform.

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