Glen Discovery in GlenLyon
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Articles on Scottish history by Peter Lawrie FSAScot

  • Articles on Sutherland
  • Articles on the history of Clan Gregor
  • Miscellaneous articles on aspects of Scottish History

  • The history of one's native land is a vital part of understanding who we are and how we got here.

    Having spent my career in IT, I am only an amateur historian but with an interest in Scottish and particularly Highland History since I was a teenager. The various essays on this website have been written for all sorts of reasons over a period of more than thirty years.

    History teaching at Inverness Royal Academy in the early 1960s, beyond Bruce and his apocryphal spider, like all other Scottish secondary schools was essentially dedicated to British (ie English, London-centred) history. Any interest in peculiarly Scottish history, as I found at St Andrews University was regarded as an aberration and not to be encouraged. The late Marinell Ash was an American research student in St Andrews in 1969, she wrote a paper on the 'Strange death of Scottish History', which was later published as a book in 1980. What she meant was that Scottish History as a discipline had not only been discouraged but had largely been abandoned to folklorists and romanticists because of the overwhelming 'Britishness' of the academic community. In the 1960s, only Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities had Professors specialising in Scottish History - Archibald Duncan and Gordon Donaldson. Ambitious academics were discouraged from specialisation in Scottish subjects. St Andrews had Doctor Ronald Cant, a wonderful man whose brilliant lectures I always enjoyed, but he was never promoted beyond being a 'Reader in Scottish History'. Today, every Scottish University (and we now have fifteen, instead of the four when I went to St Andrews) has one or more Professors of Scottish History.

    Unbelievably, only since 2011, has the teaching of specifically Scottish History, although still only as an extension of ''British' history become a requirement in Scottish schools.

    I recall visiting the High School of Dundee parent's evenings for my two children and having to enquire of the history teacher on both occasions why the school's teaching of the Parliamentary Reform of 1832 still featured Old Sarum and the usual English examples, when we were situated in a burgh with one of the most corrupt pre-1832 local and parliamentary franchises - even the very street in Dundee, at the head of which the High School sits, is named 'Reform Street'.

    In the early 2000s, I did a part-time MPhil at the University of Dundee for which my dissertation was on the subject of the Clan Gregor between 1583 and 1611, a period which saw the clan as a whole proscribed, hunted down with the authority of the state and any survivors forbidden the use of their name. Needless to say, as I have been for more than twenty years, Vice-Chairman of the Clan Gregor Society, the proscription which lasted until 1774, failed in its ultimate objective of the destruction of the MacGregors.

    I also have a long-standing interest in the Highland Clearances and particularly in the Strath of Kildonan in Sutherland. My great-great-great-grandparents were cleared in 1819 from Elderable in the lower part of the Strath, about 4 miles from Helmsdale. My Great Grandfather, Joseph MacLeod was a leading campaigner in the Sutherland Association and Highland Land League in the 1880s and 1890s.

    As my various jottings had become somewhat disorganized, I have rearranged them into the three headings above. Please feel free to comment by emailing me at