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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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The Blame Game

The Blame Game

(p.84) Chapter 5 The Blame Game
Debating the Highland Clearances

Eric Richards

Edinburgh University Press

Highland history has run a strange course. Even before the Victorian era, an ‘invented tradition’ transmogrified the Highlander from an object of distrust and antipathy into a romantic figure. For this Dr Johnson and Sir Walter Scott take most responsibility. The Highlander became fully assimilated into the Scottish national identity, a tartanised image towards which most Lowlanders and ÈmigrÈs happily cleaved. Highland chiefs in 1746 had been regarded as ‘the brutal oppressors of a slavish people’, but were soon metamorphosed into the ‘paternal protectors of a grateful peasantry’ Subsequently their clearing successors were excoriated and denounced throughout the nineteenth century: the verdict on the Highland landowners became enshrined in official opinion. The controversy continues into the present day.

Keywords:   Blame, Responsibility, Intervention

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