The Highlands (Scots: the Hielans, /ˈhi.lənz/; Scottish Gaelic: A’ Ghàidhealtachd [ə ˈɣɛːəl̪ˠt̪ʰəxk], 'the place of the Gaels') is a historic region of Scotland. Culturally, the Highlands and the Lowlands diverged from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands. The term is also used for the area north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, although the exact boundaries are not clearly defined, particularly to the east. The Great Glen divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands. The Scottish Gaelic name of A' Ghàidhealtachd literally means "the place of the Gaels" and traditionally, from a Gaelic-speaking point of view, includes both the Western Isles and the Highlands.
The area is very sparsely populated, with many mountain ranges dominating the region, and includes the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis. Before the 19th century the Highlands was home to a much larger population, but from circa 1841 and for the next 160 years, the natural increase in population was exceeded by emigration (mostly to Canada, the United States and Australia) and migration to the industrial cities of Scotland and England.:xxiii, 414 and passim The area is now one of the most sparsely populated in Europe. At 9.1 per km2 (23.6 per square mile) in 2012, the population density in the Highlands and Islands is less than one seventh of Scotland's as a whole, comparable with that of Bolivia, Chad and Russia.
The Highland Council is the administrative body for much of the Highlands, with its administrative centre at Inverness. However, the Highlands also includes parts of the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Moray, North Ayrshire, Perth and Kinross, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire.
Between the 15th century and the 20th century, the area differed from most of the Lowlands in terms of language. In Scottish Gaelic, the region is known as the Gàidhealtachd, because it was traditionally the Gaelic-speaking part of Scotland, although the language is now largely confined to The Hebrides. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably but have different meanings in their respective languages. Scottish English (in its Highland form) is the predominant language of the area today, though Highland English has been influenced by Gaelic speech to a significant extent. Historically, the "Highland line" distinguished the two Scottish cultures. While the Highland line broadly followed the geography of the Grampians in the south, it continued in the north, cutting off the north-eastern areas, that is Eastern Caithness, Orkney and Shetland, from the more Gaelic Highlands and Hebrides.
Historically, the major social unit of the Highlands was the clan. Scottish kings, particularly James VI, saw clans as a challenge to their authority; the Highlands was seen by many as a lawless region. Following the Union of the Crowns, James VI had the military strength to back up any attempts to impose some control. The result was, in 1609, the Statutes of Iona which started the process of integrating clan leaders into Scottish society. The gradual changes continued into the 19th century, as clan chiefs thought of themselves less as patriarchal leaders of their people and more as commercial landlords. The first effect on the clansmen who were their tenants was the change to rents being payable in money rather than in kind. Later, rents were increased as Highland landowners sought to increase their income. This was followed, mostly in the period 1760–1850, by agricultural improvement that often (particularly in the Western Highlands) involved clearance of the population to make way for large scale sheep farms. Displaced tenants were set up in crofting communities in the process. The crofts were intended not to provide all the needs of their occupiers; they were intended to work in other industries such as kelping and fishing. Crofters came to rely substantially on seasonal migrant work, particularly in the Lowlands. This gave impetus to the learning of English, which was seen by many rural Gaelic speakers to be the essential "language of work".:105-107:1-17,110-118:37-46, 65-73, 132
Older historiography attributes the collapse of the clan system to the aftermath of the Jacobite risings. This is now thought less influential by historians. Following the Jacobite rising of 1745 the British government enacted a series of laws to try to suppress the clan system, including bans on the bearing of arms and the wearing of tartan, and limitations on the activities of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Most of this legislation was repealed by the end of the 18th century as the Jacobite threat subsided. There was soon a rehabilitation of Highland culture. Tartan was adopted for Highland regiments in the British Army, which poor Highlanders joined in large numbers in the era of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1790–1815). Tartan had largely been abandoned by the ordinary people of the region, but in the 1820s, tartan and the kilt were adopted by members of the social elite, not just in Scotland, but across Europe. The international craze for tartan, and for idealising a romanticised Highlands, was set off by the Ossian cycle, and further popularised by the works of Walter Scott. His "staging" of the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822 and the king's wearing of tartan resulted in a massive upsurge in demand for kilts and tartans that could not be met by the Scottish woollen industry. Individual clan tartans were largely designated in this period and they became a major symbol of Scottish identity. This "Highlandism", by which all of Scotland was identified with the culture of the Highlands, was cemented by Queen Victoria's interest in the country, her adoption of Balmoral as a major royal retreat, and her interest in "tartenry".
Recurrent famine affected the Highlands for much of its history, with significant instances as late as 1817 in the Eastern Highlands and the early 1850s in the West.:415-416 Over the 18th century, the region had developed a trade of black cattle into Lowland markets, and this was balanced by imports of meal into the area. There was a critical reliance on this trade to provide sufficient food, and it is seen as an essential prerequisite for the population growth that started in the 18th century.:48-49 Most of the Highlands, particularly in the North and West was short of the arable land that was essential for the mixed, run rig based, communal farming that existed before agricultural improvement was introduced into the region.[a] Between the 1760s and the 1830s there was a substantial trade in unlicensed whisky that had been distilled in the Highlands. Lowland distillers (who were not able to avoid the heavy taxation of this product) complained that Highland whisky made up more than half the market. The development of the cattle trade is taken as evidence that the pre-improvement Highlands was not an immutable system, but did exploit the economic opportunities that came its way.(p24) The illicit whisky trade demonstrates the entrepreneurial ability of the peasant classes.:119–134
Agricultural improvement reached the Highlands mostly over the period 1760 to 1850. Agricultural advisors, factors, land surveyors and others educated in the thinking of Adam Smith were keen to put into practice the new ideas taught in Scottish universities.:141 Highland landowners, many of whom were burdened with chronic debts, were generally receptive to the advice they offered and keen to increase the income from their land.:417 In the East and South the resulting change was similar to that in the Lowlands, with the creation of larger farms with single tenants, enclosure of the old run rig fields, introduction of new crops (such as turnips), land drainage and, as a consequence of all this, eviction, as part of the Highland clearances, of many tenants and cottars. Some of those cleared found employment on the new, larger farms, others moved to the accessible towns of the Lowlands.:1-12
In the West and North, evicted tenants were usually given tenancies in newly created crofting communities, whilst their former holdings were converted into large sheep farms. Sheep farmers could pay substantially higher rents than the run rig farmers and were much less prone to falling into arrears. Each croft was limited in size so that the tenants would have to find work elsewhere. The major alternatives were fishing and the kelp industry. Landlords took control of the kelp shores, deducting the wages earned by their tenants from the rent due and retaining the large profits that could be earned at the high prices paid for the processed product during the Napoleonic wars.:1-12
When the Napoleonic wars finished in 1815, the Highland industries were affected by the return to a peacetime economy. The price of black cattle fell, nearly halving between 1810 and the 1830s. Kelp prices had peaked in 1810, but reduced from £9 a ton in 1823 to £3 13s 4d a ton in 1828. Wool prices were also badly affected.:370–371 This worsened the financial problems of debt-encumbered landlords. Then, in 1846, potato blight arrived in the Highlands, wiping out the essential subsistence crop for the overcrowded crofting communities. As the famine struck, the government made clear to landlords that it was their responsibility to provide famine relief for their tenants. The result of the economic downturn had been that a large proportion of Highland estates were sold in the first half of the 19th century. T M Devine points out that in the region most affected by the potato famine, by 1846, 70 per cent of the landowners were new purchasers who had not owned Highland property before 1800. More landlords were obliged to sell due to the cost of famine relief. Those who were protected from the worst of the crisis were those with extensive rental income from sheep farms.:93-95 Government loans were made available for drainage works, road building and other improvements and many crofters became temporary migrants – taking work in the Lowlands. When the potato famine ceased in 1856, this established a pattern of more extensive working away from the Highlands.:146-166
The unequal concentration of land ownership remained an emotional and controversial subject, of enormous importance to the Highland economy, and eventually became a cornerstone of liberal radicalism. The poor crofters were politically powerless, and many of them turned to religion. They embraced the popularly oriented, fervently evangelical Presbyterian revival after 1800. Most joined the breakaway "Free Church" after 1843. This evangelical movement was led by lay preachers who themselves came from the lower strata, and whose preaching was implicitly critical of the established order. The religious change energised the crofters and separated them from the landlords; it helped prepare them for their successful and violent challenge to the landlords in the 1880s through the Highland Land League. Violence erupted, starting on the Isle of Skye, when Highland landlords cleared their lands for sheep and deer parks. It was quietened when the government stepped in, passing the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1886 to reduce rents, guarantee fixity of tenure, and break up large estates to provide crofts for the homeless. This contrasted with the Irish Land War under way at the same time, where the Irish were intensely politicised through roots in Irish nationalism, while political dimensions were limited. In 1885 three Independent Crofter candidates were elected to Parliament, which listened to their pleas. The results included explicit security for the Scottish smallholders in the "crofting counties"; the legal right to bequeath tenancies to descendants; and the creation of a Crofting Commission. The Crofters as a political movement faded away by 1892, and the Liberal Party gained their votes.
The Scottish Reformation achieved partial success in the Highlands. Roman Catholicism remained strong in some areas, owing to remote locations and the efforts of Franciscan missionaries from Ireland, who regularly came to celebrate Mass. There remain significant Catholic strongholds within the Highlands and Islands such as Moidart and Morar on the mainland and South Uist and Barra in the southern Outer Hebrides. The remoteness of the region and the lack of a Gaelic-speaking clergy undermined the missionary efforts of the established church. The later 18th century saw somewhat greater success, owing to the efforts of the SSPCK missionaries and to the disruption of traditional society after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. In the 19th century, the evangelical Free Churches, which were more accepting of Gaelic language and culture, grew rapidly, appealing much more strongly than did the established church.
For the most part, however, the Highlands are considered predominantly Protestant, loyal to the Church of Scotland. In contrast to the Catholic southern islands, the northern Outer Hebrides islands (Lewis, Harris and North Uist) have an exceptionally high proportion of their population belonging to the Protestant Free Church of Scotland or the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Outer Hebrides have been described as the last bastion of Calvinism in Britain and the Sabbath remains widely observed. Inverness and the surrounding area has a majority Protestant population, with most locals belonging to either The Kirk or the Free Church of Scotland. The church maintains a noticeable presence within the area, with church attendance notably higher than in other Scottish cities. Religion continues to play an important role in Highland culture, with Sabbath observance still widely practised, particularly in the Hebrides.
In traditional Scottish geography, the Highlands refers to that part of Scotland north-west of the Highland Boundary Fault, which crosses mainland Scotland in a near-straight line from Helensburgh to Stonehaven. However the flat coastal lands that occupy parts of the counties of Nairnshire, Morayshire, Banffshire and Aberdeenshire are often excluded as they do not share the distinctive geographical and cultural features of the rest of the Highlands. The north-east of Caithness, as well as Orkney and Shetland, are also often excluded from the Highlands, although the Hebrides are usually included. The Highland area, as so defined, differed from the Lowlands in language and tradition, having preserved Gaelic speech and customs centuries after the anglicisation of the latter; this led to a growing perception of a divide, with the cultural distinction between Highlander and Lowlander first noted towards the end of the 14th century. In Aberdeenshire, the boundary between the Highlands and the Lowlands is not well defined. There is a stone beside the A93 road near the village of Dinnet on Royal Deeside which states 'You are now in the Highlands', although there are areas of Highland character to the east of this point.
A much wider definition of the Highlands is that used by the Scotch Whisky industry. Highland Single Malts are produced at distilleries north of an imaginary line between Dundee and Greenock, thus including all of Aberdeenshire and Angus.
Inverness is traditionally regarded as the Capital of the Highlands, although less so in the Highland parts of Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perthshire and Stirlingshire which look more to Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, and Stirling as their commercial centres. Under some of the wider definitions in use, Aberdeen could be considered the largest city in the Highlands, although it does not share the recent Gaelic cultural history typical of the Highlands proper.
The Highland Council area, created as one of the local government regions of Scotland, has been a unitary council area since 1996. The council area excludes a large area of the southern and eastern Highlands, and the Western Isles, but includes Caithness. Highlands is sometimes used, however, as a name for the council area, as in Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service. Northern, as in Northern Constabulary, is also used to refer to the area covered by the fire and rescue service. This area consists of the Highland council area and the island council areas of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
Much of the Highlands area overlaps the Highlands and Islands area. An electoral region called Highlands and Islands is used in elections to the Scottish Parliament: this area includes Orkney and Shetland, as well as the Highland Council local government area, the Western Isles and most of the Argyll and Bute and Moray local government areas. Highlands and Islands has, however, different meanings in different contexts. It means Highland (the local government area), Orkney, Shetland, and the Western Isles in Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service. Northern, as in Northern Constabulary, refers to the same area as that covered by the fire and rescue service.
There have been trackways from the Lowlands to the Highlands since prehistoric times. Many traverse the Mounth, a spur of mountainous land that extends from the higher inland range to the North Sea slightly north of Stonehaven. The most well-known and historically important trackways are the Causey Mounth, Elsick Mounth, Cryne Corse Mounth and Cairnamounth.
Although most of the Highlands is geographically on the British mainland, it is somewhat less accessible than the rest of Britain; thus most UK couriers categorise it separately, alongside Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and other offshore islands. They thus charge additional fees for delivery to the Highlands, or exclude the area entirely. Whilst the physical remoteness from the largest population centres inevitably leads to higher transit cost, there is confusion and consternation over the scale of the fees charged and the effectiveness of their communication, and the use of the word Mainland in their justification. Since the charges are often based on postcode areas, many far less remote areas, including some which are traditionally considered part of the lowlands, are also subject to these charges. Royal Mail is the only delivery network bound by a Universal Service Obligation to charge a uniform tariff across the UK. This, however, applies only to mail items and not larger packages which are dealt with by its Parcelforce division.
The Highlands lie to the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, which runs from Arran to Stonehaven. This part of Scotland is largely composed of ancient rocks from the Cambrian and Precambrian periods which were uplifted during the later Caledonian Orogeny. Smaller formations of Lewisian gneiss in the northwest are up to 3 billion years old. The overlying rocks of the Torridon Sandstone form mountains in the Torridon Hills such as Liathach and Beinn Eighe in Wester Ross.
These foundations are interspersed with many igneous intrusions of a more recent age, the remnants of which have formed mountain massifs such as the Cairngorms and the Cuillin of Skye. A significant exception to the above are the fossil-bearing beds of Old Red Sandstone found principally along the Moray Firth coast and partially down the Highland Boundary Fault. The Jurassic beds found in isolated locations on Skye and Applecross reflect the complex underlying geology. They are the original source of much North Sea oil. The Great Glen is formed along a transform fault which divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands.
The entire region was covered by ice sheets during the Pleistocene ice ages, save perhaps for a few nunataks. The complex geomorphology includes incised valleys and lochs carved by the action of mountain streams and ice, and a topography of irregularly distributed mountains whose summits have similar heights above sea-level, but whose bases depend upon the amount of denudation to which the plateau has been subjected in various places.
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The Battle of Coille Bhan (Scottish Gaelic for White Wood) was fought in 1721 near Attadale, in the county of Ross in the Scottish Highlands in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1719. It was fought between a British government force against Highlanders of the Clan Mackenzie.Battle of Corpach
The Battle of Corpach was a Scottish clan battle in which the Clan Cameron routed the Clan Maclean. It took place around 1470 at Corpach, just north of Fort William on the west coast of Scotland.Corriechatachan
Corriechatachan (Gaelic for “corrie of the wild cats”) is a farmstead (now ruined), lying at the foot of Beinn na Caillich, near Broadford, on the Isle of Skye. Until the 19th century, it was a tack farmed by a cadet branch of the Clan Mackinnon. Notable visitors included Thomas Pennant, in the course of the travels that resulted in the publication of A Tour of Scotland in 1769, and Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, on their tour of the Highlands.Cromarty (Parliament of Scotland constituency)
Cromarty was a royal burgh that returned one commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland and to the Convention of Estates.
A royal burgh since 1264, Cromarty had a new charter on 4 July 1593, but this was not enrolled by Parliament until 1661. The right of representation was relinquished in 1672.Fort George, Highland
Fort George (Gaelic: Dùn Deòrsa or An Gearastan, the latter meaning literally "the garrison"), is a large 18th-century fortress near Ardersier, to the north-east of Inverness in the Highland council area of Scotland. It was built to pacify the Scottish Highlands in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745, replacing a Fort George in Inverness constructed after the 1715 Jacobite rising to control the area. The current fortress has never been attacked and has remained in continuous use as a garrison.
The fortification is based on a star design; it remains virtually unaltered and nowadays is open to visitors with exhibits and facsimiles showing the fort's use at different periods, while still serving as army barracks.Highland (council area)
Highland (Scottish Gaelic: A' Ghàidhealtachd, pronounced [ˈkɛːəl̪ˠt̪əxk]; Scots: Heilan) is a council area in the Scottish Highlands and is the largest local government area in the United Kingdom. It was the 7th most populous council area in Scotland at the 2011 census. It shares borders with the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Moray and Perth and Kinross. Their councils, and those of Angus and Stirling, also have areas of the Scottish Highlands within their administrative boundaries.
The Highland area covers most of the mainland and inner-Hebridean parts of the historic counties of Inverness-shire and Ross and Cromarty, all of Caithness, Nairnshire and Sutherland and small parts of Argyll and Moray.Highland Potato Famine
The Highland Potato Famine (Scottish Gaelic: Gaiseadh a' bhuntàta) was a period of 19th century Highland and Scottish history (1846 to roughly 1856) over which the agricultural communities of the Hebrides and the western Scottish Highlands (Gàidhealtachd) saw their potato crop (upon which they had become over-reliant) repeatedly devastated by potato blight. It was part of the wider food crisis facing Northern Europe caused by potato blight during the mid-1840s, whose most famous manifestation is the Great Irish Famine, but compared to its Irish counterpart it was much less extensive (the population seriously at risk was never more than 200,000 - and often much less) and took many fewer lives (prompt and major charitable efforts by the rest of the United Kingdom ensured relatively little starvation). The terms on which charitable relief was given, however, led to destitution and malnutrition amongst its recipients. A government enquiry could suggest no short-term solution other than reduction of the population of the area at risk by emigration to Canada or Australia. Highland landlords organised and paid for the emigration of more than 16,000 of their tenants and a significant but unknown number paid for their own passage. Evidence suggests that the majority of Highlanders who permanently left the famine-struck regions emigrated, rather than moving to other parts of Scotland.:197-210 It is estimated that about a third of the population of the western Scottish Highlands emigrated between 1841 and 1861.Inverness-shire (Parliament of Scotland constituency)
Before the Acts of Union 1707, the barons of the shire of Inverness elected commissioners to represent them in the unicameral Parliament of Scotland and in the Convention of the Estates.
From 1708 Inverness-shire was represented by one Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of Great Britain.Inverness (Parliament of Scotland constituency)
Inverness was a burgh constituency that elected one commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland and to the Convention of Estates.
After the Acts of Union 1707, Inverness, Forres, Fortrose and Nairn formed the Inverness district of burghs, returning one member between them to the House of Commons of Great Britain.Neil Mackinnon
The Reverend Neil Mackinnon was the first Protestant minister on the island of Skye, being for many years in the 17th century the Episcopalian minister of first Strath and subsequently Sleat.Raid on Rannoch
The Raid on Rannoch took place in 1753 in the tumultuous aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Lieutenant Hector Munro, 8th laird of Novar who was a commissioned officer in the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot led the raid to capture the Jacobite rebel John Dubh Cameron who was later executed.Scottish Terrier
The Scottish Terrier (Scottish Gaelic: Abhag Albannach; also known as the Aberdeen Terrier), popularly called the Scottie, is a breed of dog. Initially one of the highland breeds of terrier that were grouped under the name of Skye Terrier, it is one of five breeds of terrier that originated in Scotland, the other four being the modern Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and West Highland White Terriers. They are an independent and rugged breed with a wiry outer coat and a soft dense undercoat. The First Earl of Dumbarton nicknamed the breed "the diehard". The modern breed is said to be able to trace its lineage back to a single female, named Splinter II.
They are a small breed of terrier with a distinctive shape and have had many roles in popular culture. They have been owned by a variety of celebrities, including the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose Scottie Fala is included with FDR in a statue in Washington, D.C., as well as by the 43rd President, George W. Bush. They are also well known for being a playing piece in the board game Monopoly. Described as territorial, feisty dogs, they can make a good watchdog and tend to be very loyal to their family. Healthwise, Scottish Terriers can be more prone to bleeding disorders, joint disorders, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and cancer than some other breeds of dog, and there is a condition named after the breed called Scotty cramp. They are also one of the more successful dog breeds at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with a recent best in show in 2010.Siege of Fort Augustus (December 1745)
The first siege of Fort Augustus took place in December 1745 and was part of the Jacobite rising of 1745. A force of 600 men from the recently formed Independent Highland Companies, formed to support the British-Hanoverian Government liberated the fort from the Clan Fraser after a small skirmish.Siege of Fort Augustus (March 1746)
The Siege of Fort Augustus was a conflict that took place over two days in 1746 during the Jacobite rising of 1745. A rebel Jacobite force succeeded in taking the fort from British-Hanoverian forces in March 1746, after an artillery shell blew up the gunpowder magazine of the fort. The Jacobites then used cannons that they had captured at Fort Augustus to lay siege to Fort William.Skirmish of Arisaig
The Skirmish of Arisaig took place on 16 May 1746 at Arisaig, Scotland and was the last armed conflict of the Jacobite rising of 1745. It was fought between a British Government force and Jacobites of the Clan Macdonald of Clanranald.Tain (Parliament of Scotland constituency)
Tain in Ross-shire was a burgh constituency that elected one commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland and to the Convention of Estates.
After the Acts of Union 1707, Tain, Dingwall, Dornoch, Kirkwall and Wick formed the Tain district of burghs, returning one member between them to the House of Commons of Great Britain.Traditional dyes of the Scottish Highlands
Traditional dyes of the Scottish Highlands are the
native vegetable dyes used in Scottish Gaeldom.
The following are the principal dyestuffs with the colours they produce. Several of the tints are very bright, but have now been superseded for convenience of usage by various mineral dyes. The Latin names are given where known and also the Scottish Gaelic names for various ingredients.
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