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The Clearances

The Clearances began in Strath Rusdale, Ross-shire in 1792.

As a result of the Clearances, the Highlands were one of the least populated areas in Europe.

Some see the Clearances as an attempt by the ruling class to keep hold of their wealth by sacrificing their people.

However, the Clearances are generally seen as something which happened in a few stages.

It happened in different ways, depending on when it happened, where it happened, and who was involved.

During one period, from 1846-1856, the potato crops were ruined by potato blight and many Highlanders moved to the Scottish Lowlands (where factory work could be found), to Canada, the United States or Australia.

The Clearances didn’t just cause depopulation; they totally changed the culture of the Highlands of Scotland.

They destroyed the Highland clans, their way of life, their oral traditions, kinship and homes.

Even the Gaelic language was under threat, since the state education system taught English and not Gaelic, the language of the Highlanders.

Forced useage of English
Ross-shaire and Caithness map

The Sutherland clearances were not the only clearances to happen throughout Scotland, but they were amongst the most notorious.