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Signpost worth erecting

The suggestion from Professor Jim Hunter that a sign be erected in Sutherland so the fate of Margaret Mackay is not forgotten has much merit.

The matter of the Highland Clearances is still bitterly divisive. Historians disagree and Scotland's landowners are more than weary of living in the shadow of what happened in the past.

Indeed, Barry Lomas, the absentee owner of the Pairc Estate on Lewis, recently claimed the Scottish Government was taking revenge for the Clearances by approving the local community's buyout. But the burning of Margaret Mackay's house at Badinloskin 200 years ago this week, and her death six days later, are undeniable. The episode was taken sufficiently seriously for an agent of the aristocracy to be prosecuted, albeit he was acquitted.

That the event helped define what the Highland Clearances came to represent in Scotland, and among the resulting diaspora, is beyond question.

That in itself is worth a signpost. In addition, anything that helps the visitor better understand why many Highland landscapes are so empty should be welcomed.

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Local government

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