For centuries, the people of the Highlands of Scotland lived and worked the land, living in houses like the one you see here. These were called crofts. The life of a crofter was hard and they spent long days looking after their animals while also planting and growing crops. It was often the case that crofters who all lived near each other would be members of the same clan. Can you believe that some clans lived in the same cottages for as long as 500 years!
The land they lived on wasn’t their own though and they paid rent to rich landowners. From the middle of the 18th century, these greedy landowners realised that they could make more money grazing sheep on the land than renting it to the crofters and simply threw them out. Sometimes they even burnt down the cottages! This is known as the Highland Clearances.
Faced with the prospect of either starving or freezing to death, the people fled to the towns and cities looking for work. Some even chose to go and live in places such as America and Canada. It is possible that many of our overseas visitors to the Museum descend from these Highlanders.