This image is the cover for the book Set Adrift Upon the World

Set Adrift Upon the World

This true story of a mass eviction in nineteenth-century Scotland is “a moving, gripping, definitive account of a struggle for survival (Scots Magazine).

A Saltire Society History Book of the Year

They would be better dead, they said, than set adrift upon the world. But set adrift they were—thousands of them, their communities destroyed, their homes demolished and burned.

Such were the Sutherland Clearances, an extraordinary episode involving the deliberate depopulation of much of a Scottish Highlands county. What was done in the course of it was planned and carried out by a small group of men and one woman, seeking a more profitable use of the land. Most of those involved wrote a great deal about their actions, intentions, and feelings, and much of it has been preserved. There are no equivalent collections of material from those whose communities ceased to exist. Their feelings and fears are harder to access, but by no means irrecoverable.

In this book, James Hunter tells the story of the Sutherland Clearances. His research took him to archives in Scotland, England, and Canada, to the now deserted valleys of Sutherland, to the frozen shores of Hudson Bay. The result is a story of a people’s struggle for survival in the face of tragedy and disaster, covering experiences not featured in any previous such account.

“Detailed and unsparing . . . . [The author] is careful to present the evidence for all he records.” —London Review of Books

James Hunter

James Hunter is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of the Highlands and Islands and was its first Director of the Centre forHistory. He is the author of the award-winning Set Adrift Upon the World (Saltire Society History Book of the Year, 2016).

Birlinn Ltd