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Glencoe and Beyond: The Sheep Farming Years 1780 - 1830

Author Iain S Macdonald
Details Softcover. John Donald Publisher. 316 pages
ISBN 0859766195

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Publisher's Synopsis: The early sheep-farming period in the part of the Highlands examined in this study was characterised by a great deal of geographical, social and financial movement.

Two general points can be made. One is that chiefs, tacksmen, clansmen, and even southern sheep-farmers were all individuals reacting to the circumstances in which they found themselves. The other is that these circumstances were characterised by a great deal of economic turbulence.

It has been widely accepted in the past that sheep-farming in the Highlands was developed and undertaken by southern incomers. Some modern historians have even dismissed the possibility that Highlanders could have become sheep-farmers because they lacked the necessary skill and capital.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, some southern sheep-farmers did indeed move into the Highlands but they were greatly outnumbered by native Highlanders who saw a future in sheep-farming, initiated it themselves, and pursued it vigorously.

Comment: This is a fascinating and very scholarly (but eminently readable) account of Alexander Macdonald of Glencoe's Sheep-Farming exploits and how they impacted on various Macdonald families: Mainly the Glencoe and Keppoch cadets and ranges far from their Lochaber base to Knoydart and Strathconon among many other places. The book gives and interesting insight into agriculture and commerce in the highlands as well as being a goldmine of genealogical information in a period which has many researchers stumped.

This book is a tremendous piece of work and I can thoroughly recommend it.

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