HISTORY: Sir Tom Devine to provide lowdown on The Clearances, in u3a lecture

Glen Fruin, where the crofters were amongst the first people affected by The Clearances.

By Rory Murphy

We have always believed at The Democrat that the Highland Clearances began in the hills around Loch Lomondside at Luss and Glen Fruin.
However, if you want to know the truth about The Clearances and to confirm this or hear it denied, come and quiz eminent historian, Professor Sir Tom Devine, on Thursday 22 April at 2pm.

His online lecture, arranged by the new Online Across Scotland u3a, will also reveal how the Lowlands of Scotland were altered forever by evictions and widespread changes in land use.

This free event for existing and new u3a members is limited to 500 attendees. All details re Zoom booking at:

Scottish u3a trustee, Ann Keating, remarked: “Anyone interested in Scottish history is in for a treat. Viewers will hear one of the country’s leading historians share findings from his book, ‘The Scottish Clearances: a history of the dispossessed, 1600-1900′.

“Then, there will be an opportunity to question Sir Tom Devine about his investigative research. Scotland in the 18th century had many enlightened ideas but it generated turbulent times too.”

Professor Sir Tom Devine, right,  said: “In this lecture, I will try to answer two questions which I have long found intriguing. Firstly, if clearances were so extensive across the whole of Scotland, as I contend, why have historians, novelists, poets, the media and most Scots worldwide assumed it was simply the Highland Clearances?

“Secondly, why have these traumatic events happening in the Lowlands and Borders been largely forgotten, both in folk memory and written tradition, until they were ‘rediscovered’ by a modern scholar?”

Online Across Scotland u3a was initiated in 2020 as a response to the Covid 19 pandemic and government regulations concerning public meetings.

This new u3a network enables people to learn in online groups. It suits those who cannot attend local u3a events in person because of health or travel issues, or where no local u3a or a specific interest group exists.

Scotland has 55 community u3as which form part of a UK-wide and international educational movement. Local volunteers lead these self-help learning co-operatives for semi- and fully-retired people, or those who are unable to work. The u3a motto is ‘Learn, laugh, live’.

Professor Devine’s presentation, entitled ‘New Perspectives on the Clearances’, is based on his aforementioned book published in Penguin paperback (2019).

In 2014, he was knighted ‘for services to the study of Scottish history’, understood to be first historian of Scotland to be so honoured.

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