A Scottish historian recounts how Hebridean croft farmers raided a neighboring island in order to survive—and sparked a national debate over land rights.
In 1906, men from the Hebridean islands of Barra and Mingulay took possession of the uninhabited island of Vatersay. Two years later, they were imprisoned for refusing to leave—and for building huts and planting potatoes without permission.
The case caused an outcry across Scotland, and the government eventually bought Vatersay for the purpose of croft farming. In the first book on the subject, historian Ben Buxton tell the full story of the Vatersay Raiders: their struggle to escape the oppressive policies of an absentee landowner, the raiding and settlement of the island, and the fraught process of dividing it up into crofts.
The book also documents the larger history of Vatersay, from intriguing monuments of prehistory to shipwrecks and the 19th century evictions that left it uninhabited. An outline of subsequent developments, including the Vatersay Causeway which connects the island to Barra, completes the narrative.