The economic, religious and cultural transformation of the northern Highlands in the years 1790 to 1850, can be linked directly to the Clearances - wholesale evictions of highland sub-tenants and small farmers by English landlords, who wished to make way for more profitable sheep farming. The low esteem in which English speakers regarded the Gaelic community and its language is evident. Yet, far from fighting change, the clergy stands accused of abetting the landlords by preaching the need for individual repentance and submission, thus securing a population passive towards the changes. Taking evidence from the far north of Sutherland and Ross - the epicentre of the crisis, author David Paton uses unusual and revealing evidence, including Gaelic poetry and descriptions of the emotional effects of a more complex and subtle picture. The form of Presbyterianism that sustained the Gaelic community in the Northern Highlands in the face of attack by an alien culture, simultaneously prevented effective protest and hindered the expression of a sense of injustice.
David Paton was born in 1950 and educated in Birmingham. He completed a PhD with the Open University in 2001. He has written a number of articles about Northern Scotland and in particular about the clearances in the far North-West. He lives in St Albans where he works as a teacher.