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The Highland Clearances

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the causes and impact of the waves of migrations and evictions of people in the Highlands and Western Isles from the mid-18th century onwards.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how and why Highlanders and Islanders were cleared from their homes in waves in C18th and C19th, following the break up of the Clans after the Battle of Culloden. Initially, landlords tried to keep people on their estates for money-making schemes, but the end of the Napoleonic Wars brought convulsive changes. Some of the evictions were notorious, with the sudden and fatal burning of townships, to make way for sheep and deer farming. For many, migration brought a new start elsewhere in Britain or in the British colonies, while for some it meant death from disease while in transit. After more than a century of upheaval, the Clearances left an indelible mark on the people and landscape of the Highlands and Western Isles.

The image above is a detail from a print of 'Lochaber No More' by John Watson Nicol 1856-1926


Sir Tom Devine
Professor Emeritus of Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh

Marjory Harper
Professor of History at the University of Aberdeen and Visiting Professor at the University of the Highlands and Islands


Murray Pittock
Bradley Professor of English Literature and Pro Vice Principal at the University of Glasgow

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

51 minutes

Last on

Thu 8 Mar 2018 21:30


Sir Tom Devine at the University of Edinburgh

Marjory Harper at the University of Aberdeen

Murray Pittock at the University of Glasgow

The Highland Clearances – Wikipedia

The Highland Clearances – Historic UK



Peter Aitchison and Andrew Cassell, The Lowland Clearances: Scotland’s Silent Revolution, 1760-1830 (Tuckwell Press Ltd, 2003)

Margaret Bennett, Oatmeal and the Catechism. Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec (Edinburgh, 1988)

Ian Brown (ed.), From Tartan to Tartanry: Scottish Culture, History and Myth (Edinburgh University Press, 2010)

J. M. Bumsted, The People's Clearance: Highland Emigration to British North America, 1770-1815 (Edinburgh University Press, 1982)

T. M. Devine, The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900 (Allen Lane, forthcoming in October 2018)

T. M. Devine, Clanship to Crofters’ War: The Social Transformation of the Scottish Highlands (first published 1994; Manchester University Press, 2013)

T. M. Devine The Great Highland Famine: Hunger, Emigration and the Scottish Highlands in the Nineteenth Century (first published 1988; John Donald Publishers, 2004)

Charles Dunn, “Check-list of Scottish Gaelic Writings in North America”, Irisleabhar Ceilteach, 1-2 (1952-4), 23-9

Michael Fry, Wild Scots: Four Hundred Years of Highland History (John Murray, 2005)

Laurence Gouriévedis, The Dynamics of Heritage: History, Memory and the Highland Clearances (first published 2010; Routledge, 2016)

Marjory Harper, Adventurers and Exiles: The Great Scottish Exodus (Profile Books, 2003)

James Hunter, The Making of the Crofting Community (first published 1976; John Donald Publishers, 2000)

James Hunter, Set Adrift upon the World: The Sutherland Clearances (Birlinn Ltd, 2015)

Robert MacDougall, Ceann-iùil an fhir-imrich do dh'America mu-thuath; or, The Emigrant's Guide to North America (Glasgow: J & P Campbell, 1841)

Robert MacDougall, The Emigrant’s Guide to North America, edited by Elizabeth Thompson (Toronto: Natural Heritage Books, 1998)

Allan I. Macinnes, Marjory-Ann D. Harper and Linda G. Fryer (eds), Scotland and the Americas, c. 1650 – c. 1939: A Documentary Source Book (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 2002), Chapter 5, “The Gael in America”, pp 69-206

Donald E. Meek (ed.) (deasaichte le Domhnall Eachann Meek), Mairi Mhor nan Oran : taghadh de a h-òrain le eachdraidh a beatha is notaichean (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press on behalf ofThe Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, 1998)

Donald E. Meek (ed.), Tuath is tighearna = Tenants and landlords : an anthology of Gaelic poetry of social and political protest from the Clearances to the Land Agitation (1800-1890) (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press for The Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, 1995)

Donald E. Meek, The Scottish Highlands: The Churches and the Gaelic Culture (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1996)

John Morrison, Painting the Nation: Identity and Nationalism in Scottish Painting, 1800-1920 (Edinburgh University Press, 2003)

Eric Richards, The Highland Clearances: People, Landlords and Rural Turmoil (Birlinn Ltd, 2008)

Eric Richards, Debating the Highland Clearances (Edinburgh University Press, 2007)

Eric Richards, A History of the Highland Clearances (2 vols. Croom Helm Ltd, 1982)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Tom Devine
Interviewed Guest Marjory Harper
Interviewed Guest Murray Pittock
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 8 Mar 2018 09:00
  • Thu 8 Mar 2018 21:30

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