Highland Clearances

Highland Clearances, term used for the gradual process of enforced eviction and emigration of clansmen in the Scottish Highlands during the early decades of the 19th century. This was due to the change in farming methods brought about by estate owners introducing breeds of black-face sheep that were hardy enough to survive in the harsh Highland terrain. The Highland regions were until then occupied by crofters, and this reorganization led to a denudation of the land at a time when the long-established clan interdependency was being cynically phased out by mainly absentee landlords, in the wake of the "Forty-Five". By 1800, Highland economy had been whittled down to three basic elements: landowners, large-scale sheep farmers, and smallholders eking a meagre living from farming, fishing, and kelp. Since hill sheep-farming requires little labour, Highland landowners began evicting their small tenants to make ever larger sheep farms, the source of high dividends, and to reduce the risk of having to support a large population should crops fail.

In some areas, such as Argyll and Caithness, the change was effected relatively skilfully, and people leaving the glens reluctantly found employment elsewhere. But in other cases, such as Glengarry, Sutherland, and the Hebridean islands, real brutality was used to shift the tenants, creating much hardship and bitterness; so much so that the "Sutherland Clearances" became a byword focusing resentment against the Scottish and Anglo-Scottish landowning classes in general.

Clearences are happening today in other places like Cambodia.

Other web sites:-
(It is a sad fact that many of the web sites that were listed here have sold out to tartan retailers.
They have been cleared. These are the remaining few.)


Page created on May 3rd. 2003 and updated April 2nd. 2011  Return to Culloden