The great hunger
in Clanship to crofters’ war
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Food shortage was a familiar and recurrent feature of Highland life in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as grain cultivation was always problematic in a region of poor natural endowment and uncertain climate. The famine induced movement from all over the Highland region, but it is important to recognise that its effects varied significantly between different areas and social groups. Potato dependency was one hallmark of the intrinsic poverty of the Highlands and, however extensive the blight, famine would not have occurred if the population had possessed the economic resources to acquire substitute food supplies from elsewhere. The potato famine can be seen as an epochal development in Highland emigration history as, though often enduring an existence of grinding poverty, the small crofter and cottar class only emigrated with great reluctance.

Clanship to crofters’ war

The social transformation of the Scottish Highlands

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