From BBC Scotland, ever the state broadcaster, this morning we hear of:
A highland settlement whose population was moved during controversial clearances in the early 19th Century. Rosal in Strathnaver was emptied of its population between 1814 and 1818.
Controversial? Like the debate over leaving the EU?
Here’s a first-hand account by Donald Macleod, a native of Rosal, of the first Strathnaver clearances in 1814 [while highland soldiers were away in France to face Napoleon], It was known locally as the “year of the burning”. 15,000 people were cleared from the 1.5 million acre estates of the English Duke and Duchess of Sutherland to increase the income from the land by letting it to sheep farmers:
“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 out to sea. At night an awfully grand but terrific scene presented itself – all the houses in an extensive district in flames at once. I myself ascended a height about eleven o’clock in the evening, and counted two hundred and fifty blazing houses, many of the owners of which 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.”https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/bettyhill/strathnaver/index.html
This cleansing happened all over the Highlands:
Last year, ignoring witness accounts and burning of homes, BBC presenter Neil Oliver didn’t even rate it controversial:
They left their windswept crofts behind looking for adventure and the promised land.
In 1959, at 8 and with my family, we were evicted for overcrowding my granma’s house, after my dad’s job loss and a move across the country, to live for 7 years in a half-empty dockland tenement flat, among rats and with drunks pissing in the close – what an adventure that was.