Antony Sojka   Photography

Cianalas - A Sense of Belonging

Cianalas is a Gaelic word meaning "A deep seated sense of belonging to the place where your roots lie. There is no sadness or melancholy in cianalas, only the realisation of what is truly important in life."
With the Industrial and Agricultural Revolution, land became a valuable asset and changed from being a commonly used area for grazing and arable open fields that supported its residents to an asset that could bring financial profit to whoever owns it. This resulted in a displacement of farmers to the Highland coasts and the Scottish Lowlands.

Since good land was scarce in those areas and the crofts that emerged as a result of the clearances could not support the needs of its new inhabitants, it resulted in landlords restricting the size of arable land to just a few acres surrounded by a shared grazing area.
Crofters strong connection to their land comes from their way of practicing small-scale farming paired with a continuous aim to not disturb any wildlife. Methods  such as: using heritage seeds and collecting seaweed as fertilizer ensures the production of not only ecological produce but also enriches an environment that future generations can inherit and cherish.

In 1976 crofters were given the right to buy their croft but this also opened up the market for others to buy crofting land as well. Many people drawn by the idea of living in an area surrounded by nature started buying up houses, which initialy had been part of a croft, just to use them as holiday houses and with no intention to work the land.
This move took away essential and very much needed housing for crofters. New uncertainty about essential subsidies that may be removed after a UK exit from the European Union adds to the weight already placed on the younger generation by holiday gentrification.

The transfer of knowledge and culture developed over centuries is now under threat of being forever lost.