The privatisation of communal assets tends to be presented as an irreversible linear movement that was driven from above. Based on a case study (Navarre, nineteenth century), this article seeks to give greater prominence to local players and their response to changing circumstances. The process thus appears less linear and compact by revealing certain anomalies, such as the reversibility of certain sales or the alienation of partial ownership rights that were compatible with the preservation of rights of use in favour of local councils and households, as an example of institutional bricolage. Against a backdrop of war and municipal bankruptcy, the privatisation of collective lands between 1808 and 1860 followed various paths, each one benefitting different social classes. Borrowers, outside investors and wealthy individuals accumulated large estates, but there was also a chance for peasants and local people to become property owners. The recovery of part of these lands on the back of social conflicts from 1884 onwards confirms that privatisation was not a fait accompli.