Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sutherland. Dunrobin Castle. Clearances of Crofters.

Dunrobin is notorious here in the old Norse "south lands" -- from which the family Sutherland took its name when first settled by a Fleming in the 1200's. 

This castle, later remodeled in the French chateau mode, represented the vast wealth of the noble classes who engaged in the brutal, profit-motivated clearances of poor crofters, the great evictions, so that the noblemen could make more money in sheep.

Clearances of crofters.  A crofter is a poor small-farmer, with tenure rights to till a portion of arable land, a means of producing food for the family. Dukes and Earls of Sutherland:  dominating the countryside. What is the difference?  King: Heavenly.  Prince:  Just below Heavenly. Duke:  highest after Prince. Then come Marquess-es. Then Earl:  below Duke.  Viscount:  below Earl.

Earl derives from the Norse Jarl, but in Scandinavia, could also mean rank like a Prince.  Earl was a term not used on the Continent. An Earl was a chieftain.  That rank authorized him to rule in place of the King.  In the middle ages, Earl was used less commonly, and the term Duke arose to rule.

The water beyond:  We went by car ferry from Scrabster, after arriving from the southwest and Hebrides;  to Stromness, Orkney; and returned with immediate aim to Wick and the northeastern coast of Scotland.  Suddenly, there was Dunrobin Castle.

On the upper floors was, it is said, the bedroom of the Lord's daughter, the 14th Earl of Sutherland no less, and he had forbidden her to marry her true love. She let down a rope to escape, and fell, haunting the place thereafter.

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