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Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland


In July 2007 I acquired some volumes of this publication. It is my intention to simply pick appropriate articles from the volumes. In this way I hope to provide an interesting collection of material on Agriculture in Scotland from the last half of the 19th century.

The Society was founded in 1784 to promote the regeneration of rural Scotland, as well as the preservation of its poetry, language and music.  Today, in the 21st century, the Society is for people who value the rural areas of Scotland.  It is for people who enjoy the finest products of our land-based and allied industries.  And it is for everyone who supports the very best standards in agriculture, forestry and stewardship of the countryside, which are such an essential part of our heritage - and our future.

You can visit their web site at http://www.rhass.org.uk/

History of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
By Alexander Ramsay (1879)

PREFACE

The Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, which has now existed for nearly a century, having been from a very early period national in its aims and operations, it seemed that a history of its proceedings might be so presented as to illustrate the progress of agricultural improvement in the country. A narrative of this nature would at least possess the quality of authenticity. The Society's proceedings have been recorded with great care; and for the perfect freedom of access afforded to its archives, the author has to express his most cordial acknowledgments to the Directors. The Society mainly sought to effect its purposes by the bestowal of premiums in competition; and in those offered, and in the awards made, there is evidence at once of the wants and the capabilities of the country at successive periods, as well as a record of those whose individual efforts were contributing towards the general advance.

While account has been taken of the improvements in tillage and the crops of the farm, special attention has, in the following pages, been bestowed on the illustration of the changes occurring in the character of the live stock, a course recommended alike by the nature of the subject, and the great importance now so justly attached to this department of rural economy. There will be found notices of the gradual spread over Scotland of the Shorthorn cattle, and the relative positions in successive years of the distinctive Scotch breeds. The reader curious in such matters will find an interest in tracing the decline and extinction of such breeds as the Fifeshire and Aberdeenshire Horned; and in the advance and definite development of the Ayrshire and the two Polled races. Information of kindred nature is supplied with respect to sheep and horses. Dairy husbandry is also illustrated to a considerable extent.

The Society has not confined its attention to affairs purely agricultural. That a scheme or proposal was likely to benefit Scotland in general, and the Highlands in particular, was in its earlier years recommendation sufficient to ensure the Society's support. Efforts in various independent directions, from Gaelic dictionaries and the poetry of the Highlands, to the patronage and promotion of piping competitions, are duly described. It seemed fitting to prefix to the History of the Highland and Agricultural Society some notice of the proceedings of two earlier Associations for the promotion of Scottish agriculture, which aspired to a national character. The account of the Society of Improvers is of course based on the work of Mr Maxwell of Arkland, published in 1743. The narrative of the proceedings of the Edinburgh Society is drawn up entirely from fragmentary references scattered through the Scottish newspapers of the period.

It appeared to be equally desirable to furnish a sketch of the agricultural condition of Scotland about the time the Highland Society began its active perations, as a review of that nature offered a means of measuring the advance made in the interval. In Chapter II., there will be found an outline of this character, drawn from trust worthy contemporary sources. As affording a further means of estimating the changes in the agricultural condition of Scotland within the past ninety years, some statistics are printed in the Appendix.

The preparation of the work has entailed very considerable labour; but it has been cheerfully undertaken, in the belief that the book may be found useful to a circle of readers, that will probably become wider, as there are many evidences that increased attention is being bestowed by the nation on questions relating to agriculture. The Author has to thank various gentlemen who kindly aided his inquiries. Very special thanks are due to Mr Fletcher Norton Menzies, the Secretary to the Society, and Mr Thomas Duncan, the Principal Clerk, without whose combined cordial and effective assistance the work could not have appeared in its present form. Care and attention have been bestowed in order to ensure accuracy, all statements of fact, names, and dates relating to the Society having been collated with the original authorities.

Banff, July 9, 1879.

You can download this book here in pdf format


A couple of books in adobe reader format will supply additional information on the agriculture of Scotland.

"Field and Fern" by H. H. Dixon 1868 in two volumes.

North (35Mb) |  South (25Mb)

General View of the Agriculture of the Hebrides by James MacDonald (1818)

Download the Book here! (35Mb)

A General View of the Agriculture of the Counties of Ross and Cromarty
By George Steaurt MacKenzie (1810) (pdf)

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands.

The commission was set up as a response to crofter and cottar demonstrations against excessively high rents, lack of security of tenure on land that had been in families for generations and the forced evictions of crofters.

The demonstrations started in Wester Ross and Lewis in the 1870's, and by the early 1880's had moved to Skye. Local police forces were called upon by the landlords to enforce what they believed to be their rights. However, with limited resources, the police found it difficult to cope with the increasing demands put upon them. Therefore, it became an issue needing the attention of Prime Minister Gladstone’s government and he ordered the appointment of the commission.

Under the orders of William Gladstone, and backed by Royal approval, the commission was appointed in 1883, by the Home Secretary, Sir William Harcourt. Francis Napier, 10th Lord Napier, was selected as chairman, with five other members -   Sir Donald Cameron of  Locheil; Sir Kenneth MacKenzie of Gairloch; Charles Fraser – MacIntosh MP; Sheriff Alexander Nicolson of Kicudbright and Professor Donald MacKinnon of Edinburgh university – making up the panel.

The commission began its work in Braes on the Island of Skye and travelled the length and breadth of the Highlands and Islands (including Orkney and Shetland) gathering evidence from crofters, landlords and others who were familiar with the plight of the indigenous population.

The final report was hastily published in 1884 and led obliquely to the 1886 Crofters’ Holding Act.

The Napier’s Report is a valuable piece of documentary evidence from the Highlands and Islands (including Orkney and Shetland) in 1883, presenting facts and information on the population, as well as the political, historical and social climate of the time.

These volumes can be downloaded here!

The Planter's Guide (pdf)
Or A Practical Essay on the Best Method of Giving immediate effect to Wood, by the Removal of Large Trees and Underwood; Being an Attempt tp Place the Art, and that of General Arboriculure, on Fixed and Phycological Principles; Interspersed with Observations on General Planting, and the Improvement of Real Landscape. Originally Intended for the Climate of Scotland. By Sir Henry Steuart

Woodland Trust
This web site provides information on the native trees of Britain. [External Link]

Scotch Live-Stock
By James Bruce (1877) (pdf)

Appendix to The General Report of the Agricultural State, and Political Circumstances of Scotland (1814).
Drawn up for the consideration of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement under the directions of The Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair, Bart., The President.

These volumes contain a great deal of general information about Scotland and are well worth browsing for their subject content.

Volume 1  |  Volume 2  |  Volume 3

Found 2 of the 3 volumes of the actual report. If you know where there is a copy of the second volume please advise.

Volume 1  |  Volume 2  |  Volume 3


I am personally interested in how to manage small tracts of land that can lead to making yourself self sufficient by growing your own vegetables, fruit, crops as well as animals.  There is an old series of books...

which together can help you build your own wee farm.

10 Acres Enough
What Jethro Tull did to improve tillage, the author of "Ten Acres Enough" did to prove that intensified agriculture on small areas could be made not only to support a family, but to yield a hand­some profit, and health, freedom and happiness as well. It has taken two centuries for the most advanced farmers to appreciate Tull and his teachings. It has taken nearly half a century in this progressive age to appreciate and to put in practice, in a feeble way, the fundamental principles which underlie all our dealings with Mother Earth as set forth in this modest volume of two hundred pages.

The Crofter in History
By Lord Colin Campbell, son of George, 8th Duke of Argyll (1885)

Edible Wild Plants
By Oliver Perry Medsger (1939)

The Gaelic Names of Trees, Shrubs and Plants
With notices of some of the uses to which they were put by the old Highlanders, and the superstitions connected with them.

Gaelic Names of Birds
This paper is by the same person as wrote the above article and lots of interesting stories are contained within.

General View of the Agriculture of the country of Fife (1800) (pdf)

An Account of the System of Husbandry
Adopted in the more Improved Districts of Scotland b\y Sir John Sinclair, Bart. (1812)

The Capercaillie in Scotland
By J A Harvie-Brown (1888)

The Book of the Farm
Detailing the Labours of the Farmer, Farm-Steward, Ploughman, Shepherd, Hedger, Farm-Labourer, Field-Worker, and Cattle-Man by Henry Stephens, 4th Edition (1889)

The Forester
Being Plain and Practical Directions for the Planting, Rearing, and General Management of Forest Trees by James Brown, Forester, Arniston (1847)

Grasses of Britain
This book also includes the Grasses of Scotland.

The Grocers Encyclopedia
A compendium of useful information concerning foods of all kinds. How they are raised, prepared and marketed. How to care for them in the store and home. How best to use and enjoy them and other valuable information for Grocers and General Storekeepers. By Artemas Ward (1911)

The Old Scottish Ploughman
A story of the old Scottish Ploughman and his working and living conditions.

The Edwardian Farm
A video series of running a farm over the course of a year in Edwardian Britain.

BBC's Tales from the Green Valley
A farm run by 5 experts as it would have been around 1620 and only using tools and foods available at that time.

Tudor Monastery Farm Season 1
The first episode finds the farm team arriving at Weald & Downland in West Sussex. There are domestic tasks to tackle, from lighting fires with flint, making meals with depleted crops during the Hunger Gap and using a tread wheel to fetch water from the well. Peter and Tom's first job is to move the sheep to fresh grass. Wool at this time was known as 'the jewel in the realm', because it generated much of the nation's wealth.

Episode 1
Episode 2

Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Christmas Special


Riverside Cottage
This is a series of videos where Hugh is trying out self sufficiency on a small holding in Dorset in England.

Riverside Cottage
Return To Riverside Cottage
Riverside Cottage Forever
Riverside Cottage - Vegetables

Beyond River Cottage
Cook on the Wild Side



I
f you want to grow vegetables on a serious scale, I recommend this book, but there is so much more to it that vegetables. For visual minded people there are some excellent pen and wash drawings showing the garden in all 5 seasons (winter, spring, early summer, late summer, and autumn).
 


Off the Grid: Part One
Can a family from urban Portland survive living off the grid with no running water, freezing temperatures, and the constant threat of forest fires and famine? Will the designer and contractor strangle each other or build the house? The course touches on design strategies associated with off the grid principles such as on-site renewable energy, rainwater harvesting, and renewable regional materials. Interviews with owners, architect and the construction team will provide an informative narrative on lessons learned during the process.

Off the Grid: Part Two


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