Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Duke of Sutherland
Having transcribed the Napier Commission’s report on Sutherland, I can see that it was not just the Duke himself who was to blame. His minions were as much at fault. Whether or not the Duke knew what went on is irrelevant. It happened under his responsibility. I have passed Golspie several times on my way to the far north, and have often looked up at the statue - and then turned to the other side of the train or bus to see Dunrobin Castle. That is as much a cause for revulsion as the statue, being as it was, a scene of offensive opulence, harshly offset by the grinding poverty of the tenants, crofters and cottars on the estate.
Whilst I totally understand the horrors, wreaked on the people of Sutherland by their landowner, I do not feel that it serves any constructive purpose to destroy the statue. I agree with the speaker on Radio Scotland’s Highland News this morning, who said that the statue serves as a reminder of the atrocities, perpetrated by and on behalf of the Duke.
I will go so far as to say that the statue in memory of Sir James Matheson, which overlooks Stornoway Harbour, can be held in equal revulsion. Many of his tenants were forcibly displaced across the island of Lewis or “encouraged” to emigrate, which happened in 1851, to name but an example. His trade in opium caused no end of misery in China.
Labels: Land ownership