Archive for the ‘Clearances’ Category

Peter, my husband is reading – A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland – which was written by Samuel Johnson in the mid 1700s when he and Boswell toured Scotland and each wrote their personal accounts of the country and people north of the England/Scotland border. The book is full of interesting references – which Peter interrupts my daydreaming by reading to me! The language needs a bit of getting used to but his account is full of interesting observations. In this case it is about emigration from the Islands of Scotland and is put beautifully I think : the exile he writes about is not forced exile but an exodus from choice but with nothing to loose.

Johnson puts it this way – They who went first, were probably such as could best be spared; but the accounts sent by the earliest adventurers, whether true or false, inclined many to follow them; and whole neightbourhoods formed parties for removal; so that departure from their native country is no longer exile. He that goes thus accompanied, carries with him all that makes life pleasant. He sits down in a better climate, surrounded by his kindred and his friends: they carry with them their language, their opinions, their popular songs, and hereditary merriment: they change nothing but the place of their abode; and of that change they perceive the benefit.


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Throughout the evolution of Scotland’s history her people have moved in search of work and prosperity. Sometimes they moved through choice and sometimes they were moved by the owner on whose land they lived. It is often thought that what is know as the ‘Clearances’ occurred only in the Highlands when in fact the land in the south of Scotland actually lost more people than the north.

I am doing homework on this period in Scotland’s history.

On Sunday morning a BBC Radio 4 programme mentioned the ‘Clearances’ in the north and you can listen to it here.  The relevant piece comes in after 1 hour 10 minutes if you want to fast forward!  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00t5ybg

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