An abandoned home, Strath Halladale, Sutherland, Highland.
Mono HDR. 3 exposures +/- 1. Photomatix.
Featured in the “Scotland’s history” group.
This was land cleared by the Sutherlands in the early part of the 19th century in order to put sheep on the land. Whilst this house probably just post-dates that time, it nonetheless symbolises the cruelty of the evictions. The following translation from Gaelic also sums up the strength of feelings towards those who carried out the dirty work, chief among them was Patrick Sellar:
Sellar, daith has ye in his grip;
Ye needa think he’ll let ye slip.
Justice ye’ve earned, and, by the Book,
A warm assize ye winna jouk.
The fires ye lit tae gut Strathnaver
Ye’ll feel them noo—and roast forever.
However, Scotland’s loss was many other countries’ gain, since plenty of those forced out left these shores for America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc etc etc.
The poet Sorley MacLean wrote a poem about the clearances called Hallaig (translated from Gaelic below). Although Hallaig is on Raasay, where MacLean was born, it sums up the impact of the wider clearances.
The window is nailed and boarded
through which I saw the West
and my love is at the Burn of Hallaig,
between Inver and Milk Hollow,
here and there about Baile-chuirn:
she is a birch, a hazel,
a straight, slender young rowan.
In Screapadal of my people
where Norman and Big Hector were,
their daughters and their sons are a wood
going up beside the stream.
Proud tonight the pine cocks
crowing on the top of Cnoc an Ra,
straight their backs in the moonlight -
they are not the wood I love.
I will wait for the birch wood
until it comes up from the cairn,
until the whole ridge from Beinn na Lice
will be under its shade.
if it does not, I will go down to Hallaig,
to the sabbath of the dead,
where the people are frequenting,
every single generation gone.
They are still in Hallaig,
MacLeans and MacLeods,
all who were there in the time of Mac Gille Chaluim
the dead have been seen alive.
The men lying on the green
at the end of the house that was,
the girls a wood of birches,
straight their backs, bent their heads.
Between the Leac and Fearns
the road is under mild moss
and the girls in silent bands
go to Clachan as in the beginning.
and return from Clachan
from Suishnish and the land of the living;
each one young and high-stepping,
without the heartbreak of the tale.