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Debating the Highland Clearances$
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Eric Richards

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621828

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621828.001.0001

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Before the Clearances

Before the Clearances

(p.26) Chapter 2 Before the Clearances
Debating the Highland Clearances

Eric Richards

Edinburgh University Press

It used to be assumed that ‘the law of progress’ simply did not operate in the Scottish Highlands: this was a society which had been had been sunk in a primitive and uncivilised state for centuries; its people had always been in the thrall of their autocratic patriarchs; it was chained to ‘a sort of Asiatic immutability’ This was a view of the old Highlands common in Victorian times. Is it an accurate account of the condition of the Highlands before the Clearances? And is this a fair benchmark by which to measure the impact of the coming Clearances? Did the introduction of sheep constitute ‘progress’?

Keywords:   Benchmark, Conditions before the clearances, Old Highlands

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