Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Glencoe and Beyond
Glencoe and Beyond. This perceptive and informative study examines all these aspects and shows ultimately that chiefs, tacksmen, clansmen, and even southern sheep-farmers were all individuals reacting to the circumstances in which they found themselves, and that these circumstances themselves were characterised by a great deal of economic turbulence. It has been widely accepted in the past that sheep-farming in the Highlands was developed and undertaken by southern incomers; some modern historians have even dismissed the possibility that Highlanders could have become sheep-farmers because they lacked the necessary skill and capital. Ian S. MacDonald's meticulous research disproves this and illustrates that in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that while some southern sheep-farmers did indeed move into the Highlands, they were in fact greatly outnumbered by native Highlanders, who saw a future in sheep-farming, initiated it themselves, and pursued it vigorously, as is shown when the Minister of the Parish of Kilmanivaig wrote about sheep-farming in 1842: It is supposed that there are upwards of 100,000 sheep reared in this parish every year, Mr Cameron, Carychvilly [Corriechoille], the most extensive grazier in the north, stated a few years ago, that in the preceding year he had clipped upwards of 37,000 sheep, Mr Greig of Tullach [Tolloch], and the Messrs M'Donnell of Kappoch, are supposed to have each near 100 square miles under sheep: the one on the north and the other on the south banks of the Spean. Glencoe and Beyond: The Sheep-farming Years, 1780-1830.