View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Bliadhna nan Caorach

The Chinese New Year occurred this week, heralding the Year of the Sheep. It's the sheep that features heavily in the history of the Highlands and Islands of the last two hundred years. It was the humble sheep that took the place of people and communities the length and breadth of northern Scotland. Not the fault of the sheep. But the fault of those who used its low cost to justify removal of people from land they had inhabited since time immemorial. The fault of a government who committed the ultimate folly in getting rid of its most precious asset - people - by permitting these clearances. Sheep still litter the Highlands and Islands, not to great financial benefit to their owners.

In history, there was another Year of the Sheep, the one referred to in the Gaelic title to this piece. The year was 1792. More information here.