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Village wiped out by Highland Clearances could get a new lease of life

Rosal in Strathnaver.
Rosal in Strathnaver.

A north Sutherland community could bring back to life a village that was left devastated by the Highland Clearances.

Between 1814 and 1818, anyone living in Rosal in Strathnaver was forced out, as the Countess of Sutherland wanted the land for sheep farming.

Ruins of longhouses are still visible in the area, and Strathnaver Museum sits near them to tell the stories of those who lived there.

Now the museum team, along with members of the North Sutherland Community Forest Trust (NSCFT), Bettyhill, Strathnaver and Altnaharra Community Council, have now come together to consider a community buyout of the land.

The intention would be to buy Rosal Clearance Village and the surrounding forest, around 100 acres of land. It could also include a log cabin at Borgie.

The group is considering building a small settlement around the site, without disturbing any of the structures that still stand.

This ownership would mean that any further development or usage of the area would be in the hands of the community.

Strathnaver Museum. Picture supplied by Strathnaver Museum.

‘Without community support the purchases will not go ahead’

The idea was discussed at the NSCFT’s annual meeting back in January.

A survey has now been launched to ask members of the local community what they think of the proposal and whether or not they believe the community should own the land.

Tim Curtis, director of the trust, said in an online post: “We have some really exciting ideas for things to be done at Rosal and Borgie and a team of consultants has been engaged with Scottish Land Fund money to explore the potential benefits of these community buy-outs.

“Once the consultants have helped us narrow down the options we will be extensively consulting with our communities to gauge the level of support in the community. Without community support the purchases will not go ahead.”

The community tried to buy the land in 2014 when Forestry Land Scotland, the current owners, tried to sell it.

The sale was blocked by the environment minister at the time due to the site’s historical significance.

Rosal sits on the NC500 route, a popular tourist route around the north of Scotland.

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