You too can have a wee piece of the Highlands

It seems that there are many more Lairds and Ladies around the glens and remote peat bogs of Scotland these days. Have the Highlands suddenly become the next destination of choice for the great and the good? Well no actually.

A gaggle of web-based companies has suddenly sprouted into existence, and for the princely sum of around £30 can furnish you with land and a title. What, thirty quid and one join’s the ranks of the titled and landed aristocracy?

Well not quite. These companies can sell you a square foot of land in the Scottish Highlands, probably a speck of worthless peat bog. With that ownership of land they claim, you get to call yourself ‘Laird or Lady’ ‘because as a registered owner of Highland land, comes the right to use the title’.

A bold claim indeed, as the land registry authorities in Scotland no longer register such trivial parcels of land. The ownership of the one square foot speck of land is granted to you, by the registered owner of the main plot in the form of an Indenture.  

An example of a 12" land Indenture

A clever scam?

Is this all a clever scam? There are those who say that it is, because the unique selling point of the enterprise is flawed. Nobody in Scotland would take you seriously as a Laird or Lady for owning a square foot of land. In fact, you would most likely be met with amused and knowing smiles, the kind usually reserved for small children. If the sheer fact of owning a piece of land in Scotland made you a Laird or Lady, then the majority of the population would be so titled, and being known as plain Mr, Mrs or Ms would be far more exclusive.

To be a genuine Laird or Lady and taken seriously for the fact, would entail ownership of a respectably sized estate. Laird simply means ‘landowner’, but is usually applied to those with more than a few thousand acres of good productive land. That foot square speck of peat bog just won’t cut the mustard.

Most people in full control of their faculties will no doubt realise that these tiny plots are nothing more than a novelty, a fancy looking legal document one can hang on ones wall as a little conversation piece. It is a unique and interesting gift, a piece of fun or nostalgia and nothing more. To that extent they are all fine and dandy.  

A fine Deed indeed

America and the MacZeppelins

What is highly amusing, are the amount of buyers from across the pond who are taken in hook line and sinker. Many of these have no real Scots connections but just thought that Mel Gibsons outrageously inaccurate and fantastical film, Braveheart, was 'cool'. 

Does anybody in America really imagine they can be called something like, ‘Randy Bumgardner the 3rd - Laird of Glen Haggis’ and still be accepted as being on the right side of a space cadet academy? Imagine coming across this noble fellow in a business meeting, as he hands you his card with the impressively embossed title. You just know you will be awarding him the contract.

There are a surprising number of German websites selling these Lairdships too, they must appeal to those members of the well-known Germanic Scottish Septs of the MacZeppelins and the MacRicthoffens. And even more amazingly, buyers of this micro real estate often make special trips to see their little estates in Scotland, doubtless wearing a kilt in the appropriate tartan. Such antics are at least giving the locals something to laugh about, as there is certainly nothing amusing about the weather in the Highlands of Scotland.

Become a Laird of 12 inches

Educational tools

These little pieces of land have their niche though. Anybody with an ancestral connection to Scotland can own a token bite of the country, and if they treat the ‘Laird or Lady’ nonsense with a pinch of salt, it can give some personal satisfaction. It may also be a useful educational tool to encourage ones children to take an interest in history and geography. This is especially true of those descended from Highlanders so cruelly evicted during the infamous Clearances.

If you are looking to gain a genuine title and respect, I am afraid that these ‘Laird or Lady’ packages are not for you, there are just too many of your fellow micro ‘Lairds or Ladies’ out there. There is even a website on the net for you all to get together in cyberspace and compare notes. One site is even encouraging you to design your own tartan to give that air of 'lairdliness' to your tiny piece of the Highlands. With a special weave tartan kilt package and the registration of your tartan costing the wrong side of £500, the weavers will definitely have no hesitation in saying, "suits you sir!"

If you just want a novelty item that is to be taken lightly and act as a fun icebreaker around the dinner table, as a prop to encourage your kids to study, or even as a sentimental reminder of the ‘old country’ then these tiny plots of land certainly have a place, if at a price. If they also help to attract more money directly to the Highland communities by increased tourism and via internet commerce then that is all to the good as well.

How many Lairds to the acre?

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