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Steve Branley
Isle of Lewis
Western Isles
Land Raider Memorial

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Land Raider Memorial - Balallen

Land Raider Memorial - Balallen
This is The Pairc Memorial, Balallan. Number 1 in a series of 3 of the Land Raider Memorials on the Isle of lewis.

This cairn was built in 1994 to commemorate the Pairc crofters' rising of November 1887, a protest against injustices inflicted by the landowners - in particular the conversion of 42,000 acres of sheep land into a sporting deer park.

After the rising 16 local men were arrested, 10 were later released but 6 were charged with ‘mobbing and rioting’, a serious charge in its day. During the trial in Edinburgh the jury heard that around 150 men had marched from Gravir behind a red flag; how in the crowd there were perhaps fifty firearms (mostly old single barrelled muzzle-loading shotguns and rifles); how the raiders established their camp in the forest, and how they then began the alleged destruction of the deer. The agent for the defence noted that the forest extended to 150 square miles and wondered how 150 men could mob and riot over as many square miles? After only 30 minutes of deliberation, the jury found the 6 defendants not guilty. The event was given national media coverage and became a focus for further protest in the struggle for land reform which would last another 34 years.

The site chosen for the memorial was a rock outcrop above the township of Balallan with view of the landscape of South Lewis. The cairn is a circular structure 12ft in height, built from reclaimed and beach stones, it has three entrances that align with the three districts involved with the raid. Kinloch, North Lochs & South Lochs
Internally a circular stairway leads to a viewing platform where three raised marker stones are set into the wall head each pointing to sites where significant events in the narrative of the raid took place; also built into the wall are numbered directional stones taken from the crofts of the raiders.

Designed by artist Will Maclean and constructed by local stonemason, James Crawford.

The 3 images in this set were used in a catalogue of artist Will Maclean works, 1970-2010, at the Fleming Gallery, London, February 2011.


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