The Highland Clearances in the Long View of History

Gaeldom was one of the great civilizations of Europe and encompassed Ireland and much of Scotland during the early medieval period. Although confined to the western isles and Highlands within Scotland by the later medieval period, this was a culture that enjoyed many cultural and intellectual accomplishments, having its own native professional classes (doctors, lawyers,…

Highland Clearances – 3

The Evidence of Some pre-1800 Gaelic Poetry In his introduction to a volume of Gaelic poetry on the topic of the Clearances, Donald Meek remarks (in his characteristically understated manner): Yet, in spite of the potential value of this body of verse in illuminating the perceptions of those who experienced the nineteenth-century Clearances and the…

Highland Clearances – 2

I have already stressed that much modern historical writing about the Clearances – the era when Gaels were forcibly dispossessed, relocated, and assimilated into the socio-economic norms of the anglophone world – is marred by the fact that so few who do this scholarship can read the many Gaelic sources that offer an insight into…

Highland Clearances – 1

When is it excusable to dispossess and forcibly change the social structure, economy, language and culture of a people? Apparently when the victims are Gaels, but not when they are Africans, Native Americans, or virtually any other group, accordingly to mainstream historians. When it happens to other people it is “injustice,” “oppression,” or “genocide,” but…