Scotlands History

Run-rig farming

A ‘rig’ was a narrow strip of ploughed, cultivated land. ‘Run-rig’ was a system of land tenure where each tenant was allocated several detached rigs or portions of land on a yearly basis, by lot and rotation. This gave everyone a share of the best and worst ground. The name comes from the idea of the rigs running parallel to each other.

This was a genuine communal tenure system; but it was coming to an end in the 18th century because of the Highland Clearances and pressures on land from growing populations, especially in the Lowlands. 

The marks of long-abandoned run-rigs are still visible today on bare hillsides all over Scotland, especially after a light dusting of snow.

  • Photo of a field showing ridges and furrows

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