The History Of Abandoned Farms In the Scottish Highlands

‘Once lived in’. An abandoned croft at Balnreich, Perthshire, Scottish Highlands, that was formed part of a small township (village). Now devoid of people following the Highland Clearances.

 

Photographer Rob Clamp is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. These images are from his project ‘Celtic Exodus And Empty Landscapes‘.  To see Rob’s portfolio click on any image.

 

‘Snow indoors’. The interior of a ruined croft is slowly reclaimed by nature, near Lochearnhead, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

‘Snow indoors’. The interior of a ruined croft is slowly reclaimed by nature, near Lochearnhead, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

 

‘Remains of wood and stone’. This former croft at Invervack, Perthshire, Scotland, was abandoned in the early 1900's.

‘Remains of wood and stone’. This former croft at Invervack, Perthshire, Scotland, was abandoned in the early 1900’s.

 

The Scottish Highlands today remain to be one of the least densely populated areas in Europe, but three centuries ago, this was not the case.  Large hunting estates and sheep farms are common. Much of the natural environment is ecologically poor through over-grazing, the removal of native woodland (Scotland has around 4% native woodland cover left today), and lack of small scale pastoral farming/ woodland management.

 

‘Grim reminder’. A sheep’s skull illustrates their ever presence in this grim reminder, Carron Valley, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

‘Grim reminder’. A sheep’s skull illustrates their ever presence in this grim reminder, Carron Valley, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

 

‘Long abandoned’. An abandoned croft at Balnreich, Perthshire. Up until the early 1800’s a collection of crofts here would have been home to around 30 people, now there are none.

‘Long abandoned’. An abandoned croft at Balnreich, Perthshire. Up until the early 1800’s a collection of crofts here would have been home to around 30 people, now there are none.

 

Following a series of rebellions in the Scottish Highlands in the 17th and 18th centuries against the British crown, the final defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 brought about retribution on a large scale and the deliberate attempted extinction of language of the native Gaelic language and Highland culture, and ultimately forced expulsion and economic mass migration.

 

 ‘Weather beaten’. A stone byre that was originally a dwelling for small scale pastoral farming, is now used as a shelter by sheep at Colzium, Pentland Hill, Scotland.

‘Weather beaten’. A stone byre that was originally a dwelling for small scale pastoral farming, is now used as a shelter by sheep at Colzium, Pentland Hill, Scotland.

 

‘The hearth is cold’. The interior of a former croft at Invervack, Perthshire, Scotland, abandoned in the early 1900's, and had in the 18th century been part of a township (scattered village). All now in ruins.

‘The hearth is cold’. The interior of a former croft at Invervack, Perthshire, Scotland, abandoned in the early 1900’s, and had in the 18th century been part of a township (scattered village). All now in ruins.

 

Approximately 150,000 people were forcibly cleared to America, Australia and New Zealand during the 18th and 19th centuries, and another 1,000,000 Scots leaving before and after this time on economic grounds.

 

‘New life from old’. Out of reach of sheep, this Silver Birch grows on the stump of an old Oak tree at Innishchoaraig, Glen Lochay, Perthshire, Scotland.

‘New life from old’. Out of reach of sheep, this Silver Birch grows on the stump of an old Oak tree at Innishchoaraig, Glen Lochay, Perthshire, Scotland.

 

 ‘Nature reclaims’. A ruined croft is slowly reclaimed by nature, near Lochearnhead, Stirlingshire.

‘Nature reclaims’. A ruined croft is slowly reclaimed by nature, near Lochearnhead, Stirlingshire.

 

The impacts today of historical depopulation in Scotland can be seen in environmentally degraded ecosystems, empty landscapes, under-population and a diluted native culture (1.1% of the Scots population speak Gaelic now).

 

‘The hand of man’. A drystone dyke (wall), on a sheep farm in the Pentland Hills, Scotland. Sheep farms are commonplace now throughout Scotland, with some 75% of the land area under agriculture.

‘The hand of man’. A drystone dyke (wall), on a sheep farm in the Pentland Hills, Scotland. Sheep farms are commonplace now throughout Scotland, with some 75% of the land area under agriculture.

 

‘Bent with age’. An old Rowan tree, bent with age and wind, and roots eroded by over grazing by sheep. Gartcarron, Carron Valley, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

‘Bent with age’. An old Rowan tree, bent with age and wind, and roots eroded by over grazing by sheep. Gartcarron, Carron Valley, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

 

The object of this project is to share the experiences from Scotland with those countries and locations around the world which have common threads.

 

‘Eroded by time’. The burial ground of the clan Diarmid, at Cladh Dabbhi, Perthshire, Scotland. Before the Highland Clearances, the clan Diarmid occupied this area. Now there are few left bearing the name.

‘Eroded by time’. The burial ground of the clan Diarmid, at Cladh Dabbhi, Perthshire, Scotland. Before the Highland Clearances, the clan Diarmid occupied this area. Now there are few left bearing the name.

 

The ragged remains of an Ash tree is one of the few remaining trees on this hill farm in the Pentland Hills, Scotland. Today native woodland only covers 1% of the total land area. Following the last ice age, Scotland had 85% woodland cover.

The ragged remains of an Ash tree is one of the few remaining trees on this hill farm in the Pentland Hills, Scotland. Today native woodland only covers 1% of the total land area. Following the last ice age, Scotland had 85% woodland cover.

 

‘Two veterans’. Old veteran broadleaves grow where once native woodland abounded, by Loch Tay, Perthshire, Scotland.

‘Two veterans’. Old veteran broad leaves grow where once native woodland abounded, by Loch Tay, Perthshire, Scotland.

 

‘Hills to the horizon’. Drystone dykes (walls) and bare hills stretch to the horizon, now the haunt of sheep and bare of woodland. Pentland Hills. Scotland.

‘Hills to the horizon’. Drystone dykes (walls) and bare hills stretch to the horizon, now the haunt of sheep and bare of woodland. Pentland Hills. Scotland.

 

See also:

The Forest

By Rob Clamp

 


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