Yeah. I think ... I think it’s an interesting question because if you’re asking the question about how they represent the land and the landscape, it’s interesting because what I found when I was reading through the archive myself is that they’re always about people so it’s sheep farming tenants or crofters or cottars or colleagues so the impression you can take away from the papers is of this like very kind of volatile, over-populated, congested estate whereas if you go up to Sutherland and it’s just acres of silence and wilderness and all the rest of it. So in terms of the land, it’s represented ... the key way it’s represented is economically, I would say. So all of those financial records, how much the land makes every year, how much is expended up on it every year, how much it’s worth, it’s overall value, it’s worth and how could that be increased as well. That’s the constant refrain among the estate staff: “How can we increase the income or value of this land?” So it has an economic representation and then on the other side it has ... I’m not sure how I’d characterise it, not a romantic ... but the factors themselves ... Every now and then you’ll come across a letter and they’ll be writing about the landscape itself and how beautiful it is and the example I remember best is when the factor of Assynt, on the West Coast, he had the island of Handa as part of his own sheep farm and he was writing a letter to a friend, talking about the cliffs and the birds and how beautiful it was. So there was an appreciation of the landscape in that sense, of it’s beauty, but you almost can’t separate out the landscape and the people who are on it in the estate papers. It’s very rare to get that little glimpse of ... you know, the beautiful scenery or cliffs. It’s always tied in with people, I find, so ... and land is characterised, even then, in quite economic terms so you have productive land and then what they call ‘waste land’ or ‘land in a state of nature’ is the phrase that they use, which means unproductive agriculturally. Have I made that very clear, no? (laughs) It’s quite a difficult one.

  • Annie Tindley
Thursday 13th May 2010