Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Rosal—Echoes of Highland Clearances

In the heart of Strath Naver, where chambered cairns and brochs whisper tales of ancient habitation, lies the once-thriving community of Rosal. By the dawn of the 19th century, it stood as a testament to Highland resilience, nestled among settlements that dotted the landscape every half mile or so along the Strath. However, the winds of change swept through in 1814 when the Countess of Sutherland, seeking greater profits, turned her gaze towards the promise of large-scale sheep farming.

The ensuing ‘improvements’ heralded a dark chapter in Highland history, marked by the swift and merciless clearance of communities. Among those affected, none bore the brunt more than the inhabitants of Strathnaver. Today, as we walked through the remnants of clearance villages like Grumbeg, Grummore, and here in Rosal, one name echoes through the annals of cruelty: Patrick Sellar, the estate factor.

With a chilling efficiency, Sellar callously orchestrated the eviction of families, leaving their homes and fields in ruins to ensure they could never return. Many were forced to seek refuge in distant lands or eke out a precarious existence along the unforgiving coastline, turning to the sea for sustenance.

Yet, amidst the devastation, Sellar saw opportunity. As the Countess’s sheep grazed over the ashes of the ruined homes, he created a flock of his own, amassing wealth at the expense of the human suffering he had caused.







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