Escorted Tours

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.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Glen Quaich and her Townships ~Croftinafighag.

Copyright: NLS / Crown
 Continuing our walk along the path from Easter Turrerich, we come to a small croft township site that consists of five unroofed buildings, two enclosures and a sheepfold. This site is very close to the now installed power lines. There are the remains of 5 buildings in all and evidence of sheep enclosures to the east of the site into the next field area. The croft is located next to a mature woodland.

This is an interesting site in that it is lower that the others on the route and there is still evidence of the different divisions in the buildings. There is also signs of some good construction techniques.

Croftinafighag. Copyright: Author
 This is a nice area to stop, have a coffee and a spot of lunch before continuing the 2miles to the next location. Whilst having your lunch and contemplating the beauty of the area and the Glen in front of you, you may turn your thoughts to the reasons for the clearances and why people would have had to leave.

Most of the people who lived in these areas of Perthshire worked on the land or were dependant on those who did. They were hard working, they had to be, considering the sometimes rocky, infertile hill ground which they had to cultivate in order to maintain their families. They were God fearing, attended church regularly and probably paid lip service to the laws of the church, but they would have no choice as the Church was their only help in times of need. This bears evidence throughout the period of the clearances in almost all areas of Scotland, with the church and the clergy often working for the villagers but often working with the Land owners. The physical presence of the church often provided a refuse in a lot of cases to families and whole communities after being evicted from their homes. The most famous of these is the clearances of Glencalvie in 1850 and Croick Kirk.(A brilliant account of the relationship between the church and the transformation of the highlands throughout this period can be read in the book, The clergy and the Clearances, obtained here

Easter Turrerich. copyrigh Author
Here it may be worth considering that some left the area not forcebly, as often reported when writing about the period of the clearances, but may have left through choice.

It would be naive to suggest that forced clearances never took place in Highland Perthshire; the Duke of Atholl was the first to clear some of his land to make way for sheep. The clearances at Glen Tilt, in Blair Atholl, were the first recorded evidence of the clearances in Scotland. The lands here, in Glenquaich, were cleared along with some parts of the Parich of Dull by the Earl of Breadalbane around 1830.

Many of these people left their homeland by choice, they were not forced out. Especially after the landowners had amalgamated the small farms or crofts, such as the one you sit in now, there just wasn’t enough to keep young people at home.

Emigration became an option for many with agents advertising for young Scots to go to the colonies where they were needed and work was plentiful. (The last post I published provided evidence of the type of advertising and testimonials used by the Canada Company)

Another reason for a areas becoming desolate was the common custom in Highland Perthshire of sending young boys south to learn the art of animal husbandry and farming, returning later, if at all, to take over the croft or farm in the area. Soth may have been to the Lowlands or into England where farming on larger scale was being carried out. Some may have returned with the Yorkshire farmers who obtained tenancy on the newly created, and enlarged, sheep farms. Others may have found employment in the new mills of Yorkshire and Lancashire where accommodation and employment would have been more lucrative than returning to the harsh realities of Highland life.

(adapt. Liney, K. 2006. 'Researching in Highland Perthshire Part 1' North Perthshire Family History Group.Sept. 2006)

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