Saturday, April 18, 2015

Industries at Ousdale. Article VII, 06/11/1879 - Rambling Recollections of Berriedale Badbea and Neighbourhood – Part C

Article VII written by Alexander Gunn aka A Native of Badbea was printed in the Northern Ensign on 6 November 1879. Part C A Chance for Improving Landlords

6 11 1879 NE (Article VII) part c

“The love of sport which exists amongst the nobility is all very good, but that is no reason that the Highlands of Scotland should be converted into a game-preserve to gratify their tastes. Let as much as is capable of cultivation be brought under cultivation, and let the barren rocks and mountains, which can produce nothing else, be set apart for the enjoyment of the sportsman. Should that not be found sufficient to supply the demand let them cross the Atlantic, which can be accomplished in as short a space of time as it would have taken them at one time to travel from London to Scotland, and they will get game to their hearts’ content.”

“I have been often struck with the difference between the straths and glens in the South of Scotland and those of the Highlands. All along the Tweed, the Clyde, the Forth, the Tay, the Esk, and other rivers of smaller note, the haughs and banks are cultivated in the highest perfection of farming. So are all the glens, where cultivation is at all possible, and no part is put under sheep or deer, where the plough can be put to operation. I once saw what interested me very much, in Peeblesshire – a high round hill, rising in the middle of a flat plain of fine cultivated fields. The hill was so steep that it could not be ploughed in the ordinary way, and the plan they took was to commence at the base, and plough round and round with an unbroken fur till they reached the top.”

Alexander Gunn for years challenged the changes in land use and the resultant impact these had on groups of people in the Scottish Highlands. His family had first hand experience of evictions from Badbea and he was witness to the large estates being used to gratify the whims of the proprietors. The estate of Langwell had traditionally provided the the space for hundreds of crofters to live and rear their families. While many were now suffering extreme hardship with loss of cultivatable land, the landed gentry having removed people for sheep now removed the sheep and were engaged in the sport of shooting vast numbers of game. The following extracts from newspapers illustrate this point.

Langwell hunting_0002
Dundee Courier and Argus 19 Sep 1863
Langwell hunting
Aberdeen Evening Express 10 Nov 1886
stamp (3)
A red grouse
Young stags near Langwell
Dalnawillan Lodge C Rumsdale Water Thurso River A
Near Langwell, the now deserted Dalnawillan hunting lodge, photo taken from the Dalnawillan cemetery where my great, great grandparents John and Christina McLeod are buried. Maiden Pap is in the background
The River Thurso showing the now deserted fertile flats of the river, that were once farmed. I had some problems gaining access to the Dalnawillan cemetery because of the presence of active hunting parties on the estate.
1879, 17 July NE Original 1 copy B

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