no doubt that Rannoch did become an admirable and prosperous place after
its troubles. From the time of Small and Buchanan, for the next 50 or 60
years, the area experienced its most prosperous period. There were of
course years when crops failed but on the whole it became practically
self-supporting, while it exported a great number of the best citizens,
who went to many parts of the Kingdom as well as abroad, and made good.
difficult for newcomers to the district to realise that one time this
valley was full of people and villages. If you walk the hills and get
away from the by-ways you will see the many larachs, the countless tumble
of stones with the neighbouring green patches and signs of cultivation
which are all the remain of the once populous villages and settlements.
Or follow the old drove routes to the cattle stances, or wander along the
old dyke, or sit by the cairns on the coffin roads and you will son be
aware that these hills and places were not always lonely.
height of its prosperity Rannoch housed 2,500 inhabitants in 35 villages.
Now there are 400 people (not counting the population of Rannoch school)
and two villages, three, if you count Killochonan. Someone has described
it well as the Land of the Vanished Races. There is still a MacGregor, a
Cameron, a Menzies, a Stewart, a Campbell, a MacDonald and a Robertson or
two, but hundreds of their namesakes and fellow clansmen have
disappeared. What has happened to them all?
has become depopulated throughout the years for the same reasons as other
parts of the Highlands; evictions, economy, food shortages, black-faced
sheep, fall in wool prices, decline in the crofts, and the increase in
sporting ground for grouse and deer. IN 1755 there were 2,500 people
here. Some say that there were not many evictions but I will give you the
words of a writer in 1883 called Alexander Mackenzie who gets quite hot
under the collar about the Rannoch Clearances. He thinks that certain
landlords should be held up to public scorn and execration to deter
other. He says that in 1800 the three tenant farmers of Ardlarich were
turned out in 1820 seven tenants were evicted from Liaran and 50-60
families vanished from Aulich, Craiganour and Annat, or were virtually
banished. These were all on Slios Min which belonged to Menzies.
Garbh all the crofters were evicted from Finnart and twenty-six houses
were knocked down by the late laird of Struan at Georgetown. Elsewhere
tenant were removed from their holding at Dalchosnie, Lassintulloch,
Crossmount and Tullochrcroisk, and over the River Dubhag, which is the old
name for the Tummel, countless families lost their homes, including 16 at
If I may
venture an opinion I am inclined to think that Mr Mackenzie has been
extreme in his findings, and that many of the Rannoch Clearances were due
to economic necessity. Once sheep were introduced, the country could not
support the same amount of people. Unfortunately for the small holder the
large sheep farm was far more economic than the small crofters holding
and the small crofts gradually disappeared. With the growth of popularity
of deer shooting and grouse shooting in Victorian times the departure of
the tenant was accelerated.
fifty years ago the population had dropped to twelve hundred, the Menzies
still occupied Slios Min and the Robertsons still owned some parts of the
Slios Garbh so that things were much as they had always been. But in a
few years all has changed; the Menzies lost their lands in 1914, and 1926
saw the last Robertson possession sold. Most of the Robertson and Menzies
territory is now owned by the Forestry Commission and there are new lairds
in the district from as far afield as Germany, Italy and Holland.
Opportunities for work in the area are limited but the present inhabitants
live busy lives. There are half a dozen farms, there are the Estates,
three or four shops, the hotels, the Forestry Commission, the Hydro
Electric, the tradesmen, the Garages, and the Coucil. Also Rannoch School
and Loch Rannoch Hotel, with its Time-shared Lodges bring much trade into
the valley and a regular flow of people. There is still plenty happening
at Rannoch, but how different it is! How different is life in 1984 from
what it was in the old days! No more do the hills resound with the cries
of clansmen and clash of swords. No more are there feuds and
persecutions. No more the times, the starvation and the testing
loyalties. No more the peaceful life on the hill pastures. All is
changed. None of these are left. Only the memories remain.