The Causes and Consequences of the Highland Clearances

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  • Topic: Highland Clearances, Scottish Highlands, Scottish clan
  • Pages : 2 (387 words )
  • Download(s) : 376
  • Published : February 27, 2012
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There is a disagreement amongst historians regarding the causes and consequences of the so called "highland clearances".

The above topic proves to be one that continues to spark debate amongst students and scholars, whilst this essay attempts to review such disagreement, it is unlikely to over definitive answers on either side.

Instead, the primary aim is to over a brief insight into the “highland clearances”, giving definition of this period of history, accepted reasons , the aftermath of events, consequences and varied historical perspectives.

A condensed and popular historical viewpoint shows changes in Scotland from the latter parts of the 18th century into the 19th century to show rural depopulation leading to migration, linked to industrial revolution and as a result of increased, and perhaps more profitable sheep farming.

The difficulty, and debate arises through background reading and relevant viewpoints both from the time, to historians since. Viewed as “improvements” and modernisation, or destruction and an attempt at ethnic cleansing depending on the side of the coin viewed. These viewpoints will be discussed in due course.

Whilst sheep will prove to be a talking point throughout, earlier reasons for migration are linked to changes in clan systems – from the failed Jacobite Rising to the Disarming and Dress Acts of 1746. Clan chiefs taking on the role of laird or landlord and looking to capitalise on the land. Early migration leading some across the Atlantic.

Until the mid 18th century, lands in the Scottish Highlands were governed by clans and rivalry between and within them. A shift to viewing land more commercially than previously lead to management of the land.

With an increasing national population to feed, the value of land, and indeed livestock rose – land within the highlands of Scotland then gained more commercial value than previous with a shift from the communal and clan system previously. Sheep became more valued as...
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