Failte gu Fuadach nan Gaidhealt na h-Alba

Failte gu Fuadach nan Gaidhealt na h-Alba.
The Highland Clearances were a devestating part of the history of Scotland. For many it changed not only their way of life but also shaped the rural future of Scotland. Many villagers suffered at the hands of their landlords and tackmen and fought a desperate struggle to find a new life. Others managed to propser in a new life that never saw them return to Scotland again. Here is a resource that supports the documentation and historical value of this important area of Scottish history. You can follow in the footsteps of these villagers and find detailed descriptions and locations of the remains of some of the villages and townships through site descriptions, photographs and suggestions for further reading and links to follow.




Monday, 28 February 2011

The Clearance of Strath Naver, Rosal Township; An Account by Donald Macleod

Further to my earlier blog on the clearances at Rosal, here I have reproduced a widely available extract from the event by Donald Macleod, a stonemason from Rosal who suffered eviction himself and witnessed the clearances and burnings of 1819. His account of the evictions was published (some 20 years later) in the book 'Gloomy Memories' which became the accepted first hand account of the Rosal clearances. (copies still widely available ebay, amazon etc) 

"  I was an eye-witness at the scene. This calamity came on the people quite unexpectedly. Strong parties, for each district, furnished with faggots and other combustables, rushed on the dwellings of this devoted people, and immediately commenced setting fire to them, proceeding in their work with the greatest rapidity till about three hundred houses were in flames!
The consternation and confusion were extreme; little or no time was given for the removal of persons or property - the people striving to remove the sick and the helpless before the fire should reach them - next, struggling to save the most valuable of their effects. The cries of the women and children - the roaring of the affrighted cattle hunted at the same time by the yelling dogs of the shepherds amid the smoke and fire - altogether presented a scene that completely baffles description: it required to be seen to be believed.

A dense cloud of smoke enveloped the whole country by day and even extended far on the sea; at night an awfully grand and terrific scene presented itself - all the houses in an extensive district were in flames at once! I myself ascended a hight about eleven o'clock in the evening, and counted two hundred and fifty blazing houses, many of the owners of which were my relations, and all of whom I personally knew; but whose present condition, whether in or out of the flames, I could not tell. The conflagration lasted six days, till the whole of the dwellings were reduced to ashes or smoking ruins."



"To these scenes," continues MacLeod  "I was an eye-witness, and am ready to substantiate the truth of my statements, not only by my own testimony, but by that of many others who were present at the time. In such a scene of general devastation, it is almost useless to particularize the cases of individuals; the suffering was great and universal. I shall, however, notice a few of the extreme cases of which I was myself eye-witness.

Donald Macleod
Gloomy Memories, 1892

Further such accounts of  clearances in Sutherland can be read in the excellent book, 'On the Crofters Trail' by David Craig.

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