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Grow up, Scotland ... and accept reality of the clearances

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FAR from becoming more set in one’s ways, I’ve always thought one of the hallmarks of adulthood is having the maturity to question the things you take for granted.

Being able to stand back and reassess your views, particularly as new information emerges, even when it is tempting just to go along with what you have always believed, is the grown-up thing to do. It’s not easy, but it usually turns out to be the right thing, too.

Nations as well as people can lack the maturity to do this, of course, as the response to those who challenge the status quo often shows. And if some of the reaction to historian Sir Tom Devine’s new book is anything to go by, Scotland still has a lot of growing up to do.

Called The Scottish Clearances, this ground-breaking 400-page volume not only adds to our understanding of the events of the 18th and 19th centuries north of the Highland Line, but sheds vital new light on how dispossession affected the rest of Scotland.

Indeed, the book, which took its author much of the last 40 years to research, rewrites history by demonstrating that the scale of land loss and landlessness during the period was actually greater in lowland than Highland Scotland. The book comes out at the end of this week and I........

© Herald Scotland