About the Book
Longlisted for the Highland Book Prize 2019
When Scotland’s 1846 potato crop was wiped out by blight, the country was plunged into crisis. In the Hebrides and the West Highlands a huge relief effort came too late to prevent starvation and death. Further east, meanwhile, towns and villages from Aberdeen to Wick and Thurso, rose up in protest at the cost of the oatmeal that replaced potatoes as people’s basic foodstuff.
Oatmeal’s soaring price was blamed on the export of grain by farmers and landlords cashing in on even higher prices elsewhere. As a bitter winter gripped and families feared a repeat of the calamitous famine then ravaging Ireland, grain carts were seized, ships boarded, harbours blockaded, a jail forced open, the military confronted. The army fired on one set of rioters. Savage sentences were imposed on others. But thousands-strong crowds also gained key concessions. Above all they won cheaper food.
Those dramatic events have long been ignored or forgotten. Now, in James Hunter, they have their historian. The story he tells is, by turns, moving, anger-making and inspiring. In an era of food banks and growing poverty, it is also very timely.
You may also like…
Paperback | Pub: 11 Aug 2016
They would be better dead, they said, than set adrift upon the world. But set adrift they were – thousands of them, their communities destroyed, their homes demolished and burned. Such were the Sutherland Clearances, an extraordinary episode,...
Paperback | Pub: 18 Oct 2018£14.99
Burroughs had the reputation of one of the most brutal of all Orkney landlords and, in a time of great economic change, the harshness of his actions made that change particularly traumatic. When the Royal Commission whose findings were to lead to...
Hardback | Pub: 02 Apr 2020
In April 1820, a series of dramatic events exploded around Glasgow, central Scotland and Ayrshire. Demanding political reform and better living and working conditions, 60,000 weavers and other workers went on strike. Revolution was in the air. It...