The Highland Clearances

8 Mar, 2018 940 History of Europe

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.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Sir Tom Devine 2 episodes
    Professor Emeritus of Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh
  • Marjory Harper No other episodes
    Professor of History at the University of Aberdeen and Visiting Professor at the University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Murray Pittock 6 episodes
    Bradley Professor of English Literature and Pro Vice Principal at the University of Glasgow

Reading list

  • The Lowland Clearances: Scotland's Silent Revolution, 1760-1830
    Peter Aitchison and Andrew Cassell (Tuckwell Press Ltd, 2003) Google Books →
  • Oatmeal and the Catechism. Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec
    Margaret Bennett (Edinburgh, 1988) Google Books →
  • From Tartan to Tartanry: Scottish Culture, History and Myth
    Ian Brown (ed.) (Edinburgh University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • The People's Clearance: Highland Emigration to British North America, 1770-1815
    J. M. Bumsted (Edinburgh University Press, 1982) Google Books →
  • The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900
    T. M. Devine (Allen Lane, forthcoming in October 2018) Google Books →
  • Clanship to Crofters' War: The Social Transformation of the Scottish Highlands
    T. M. Devine (Manchester University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • The Great Highland Famine: Hunger, Emigration and the Scottish Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
    T. M. Devine (John Donald Publishers, 2004) Google Books →
  • Check-list of Scottish Gaelic Writings in North America
    Charles Dunn Google Books →
  • Wild Scots: Four Hundred Years of Highland History
    Michael Fry (John Murray, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Dynamics of Heritage: History, Memory and the Highland Clearances
    Laurence Gourievedis (Routledge, 2016)
  • Adventurers and Exiles: The Great Scottish Exodus
    Marjory Harper (Profile Books, 2003) Google Books →
  • The Making of the Crofting Community
    James Hunter (John Donald Publishers, 2000) Google Books →
  • Set Adrift upon the World: The Sutherland Clearances
    James Hunter (Birlinn Ltd, 2015) Google Books →
  • Ceann-iuil an fhir-imrich do dh'America mu-thuath; or, The Emigrant's Guide to North America
    Robert MacDougall (Glasgow: J & P Campbell, 1841) Google Books →
  • The Emigrant's Guide to North America
    Robert MacDougall (edited by Elizabeth Thompson (Toronto: Natural Heritage Books, 1998) ) Google Books →
  • Scotland and the Americas, c. 1650 - c. 1939: A Documentary Source Book
    Allan I. Macinnes, Marjory-Ann D. Harper and Linda G. Fryer (eds) (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 2002) Google Books →
  • Mairi Mhor nan Oran : taghadh de a h-orain le eachdraidh a beatha is notaichean
    Donald E. Meek (ed.) (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press on behalf ofThe Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, 1998) Google Books →
  • 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)
    Donald E. Meek (ed.) (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press for The Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, 1995) Google Books →
  • The Scottish Highlands: The Churches and the Gaelic Culture
    Donald E. Meek (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1996) Google Books →
  • Painting the Nation: Identity and Nationalism in Scottish Painting, 1800-1920
    John Morrison (Edinburgh University Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • The Highland Clearances: People, Landlords and Rural Turmoil
    Eric Richards (Birlinn Ltd, 2008) Google Books →
  • Debating the Highland Clearances
    Eric Richards (Edinburgh University Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • A History of the Highland Clearances
    Eric Richards (2 vols. Croom Helm Ltd, 1982) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 941.1 (Scotland - History)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, the Highland Clearances were a notorious episode in British history that followed the failed Jacobite rebellion of 1745 and lasted for over a century.