Sunday, July 4, 2010

Scotland (IV): The Clearing of the Highlands

When we visited the former farm at Knock Hill, we visited the nearby Marnoch Old Church, where there is a family connection. It was very pleasant.

This unassuming church played quite an important role in the Disruption, which was a 19th century schism in the Church over whether the landowner or congregation members should be allowed to choose the minister.

I assume this has parallels to the "Clearing of the Highlands".

In the middle of the 19th century, a lot of land in the Highlands was owned by powerful landowners, while the majority of people were poor tenants. The landowners realised that they could make more money by kicking the people off, and farming the land heavily. This drove people to the urban centres, and resulted in a lot of the Scottish immigration around the world at that time.

Late in the trip, we did a detour to drive around Loch Tay to a tiny town called Lawers. The former town of Lawers was emptied in the Clearing, and we went to find it. It was quite special.

We walked down a little farm road, to the shore of the lake.

At the bottom were a collection of desserted crofts: the former town of Lawers.

It was a very peaceful place, but also had an air of sadness about it. While I was stumbling around looking at the buildings, I snagged my jersey on a rose bush and then flailed my way through a patch of nettles. I then also had an air of sadness about me.

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