Sunday, 21 August 2011

Rosal Township - Highland Clearances

Today was my last day in Tongue - early bus home tomorrow as I have an important afternoon appointment. This afternoon, I went with mum and dad to the township of Rosal, which was left after the highland clearances. It was a big field with stones and signs in it, but if you like that sort of thing, it's pretty good. The information boards are frequent and very interesting, and told things from the point of view of the people who lived in the township and were eventually cleared out of them. Life there was by no means easy, but it was much better than living by the coast, which was where they had to go.

The clearances occurred because the people who owned the land, who were mostly rich enough to start with, didn't make enormous profits from their tenants, who were mostly crofters and worked enough to feed and clothe themselves but weren't interested in profits and property and such nonsense. However the landowners realised they could make a lot more money by grazing sheep on the land - not the wee highland sheep that the crofters looked after, but big, hardy ones. Demand for meat and wool were increasing as the country industrialised, and so the highlanders were cleared and moved to the coasts, to the cities, or emigrated to America or New Zealand mostly.

The sheep still graze on the land here - apparently descendants of the ones that were the reason for the clearances. They didn't seem as interested in the stones as we were.

On the whole I'd say it was a really good site. The walk from the car park through the forest was lovely, and it would be a great place to visit if you have kids studying the clearances, like I did when I was 14, or just an interest of your own.

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