Patrimony and power : a study of Lairds and landownership in the Scottish Borders.
In this thesis I point to the continued existence in the Scottish
Borders of a small number of traditional, great landowning
families who exert an enormous amount of power and influence at
the level of everyday life. I attempt to show how the basis of
this power has changed over time.
What started out as essentially military power became, with the
Agricultural Revolution, economic power. At the same time, an
increasingly political basis to this power was being developed and
this was sustained, more or less, until the reorganisation of
Scottish local government in 1974. After reorganisation, politics
as a channel of influence became blocked and for a while it seemed
as if the days when the lairds ran rural society were over, ending
not so much with a bang as with a whimper.
In the Borders this was not the case, for many lairds had already
been busy investigating new ways to make their presence felt. This
was achieved by enterprising lairds like the Duke of Buccleuch and
the Duke of Roxburghe being prepared to open their
stately/ancestral homes to the public; laying the foundations for
the birth of a Scottish 'heritage industry' as they did so.
The basis of power was thus transferred from the level of politics
to that of ideology and it is with this transformation that I am