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2 The Nature of the Highland Problem

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the reality of the 'Highland problem' during the Restoration by focusing on two themes. Firstly, it considers the general issue of lawlessness, with particular reference to banditry and animal theft. Secondly, the challenge of clanship, and the related issue of feuding, are assessed. The supposed emergence of a general and endemic problem of lawlessness is much the most prominent theme in the historiography of the Highlands, and not just during the Restoration. In terms of the historiography, however, the role of clans as alternative authority systems is a secondary concern. The 'Highland problem' remains one of the most ubiquitous constructs in Scottish historical scholarship, and continues to be used as convenient shorthand for the various peculiarities of Highland society throughout the earlymodern period. The notion of general Highland lawlessness was mitigated by a more limited discourse focusing on Lochaber.

Keywords: clanship; highland lawlessness; Highland problem; Highland society; Lochaber; Restoration



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