1841 - Dìleab Eachdraidh – The Legacy of History

For reasons connected to the landlords’ ownership of production (land, the coast and seaweed), neither kelping nor the raising of cattle as cash crop for rent was conducive to efficient agrarian production. The wages derived from kelp sustained a growing population but led to a decrease in mixed agrarian production and, gradually, to the sub-division of poor land and an over-reliance on the potato as the principal staple.

As land was increasingly given over to farming tenants, access for the crofting population diminished commensurately. When both the kelp and the potato harvest failed, there was no capacity to cope with the crisis; the landlords’ preferred solutions to those economic difficulties were to prove catastrophic for generations of people. Dispossession of holdings and emigration marked the period from the late 1820s through to the 1850s. It was the brutality of eviction and clearance that left such an indelible mark on the social consciousness of the population and had direct ramifications until land was re-settled by crofting families after the First World War.