Considering the ‘age of improvement’ (1780–1820) in the Scottish Highlands, and in Sutherland more particularly, the objectives of this article are fourfold: first, to review the motivations of land ‘improvement’ policies of the early nineteenth century as specific to Strath Helmsdale, Sutherland. Second, to identify the impact of these land improvements, together with natural climatic variability, on the catchment's physical processes (hydrology, soils, vegetation and river processes) by using an evidence-informed approach from novel archival data held in the Sutherland estate papers. Third, to use these data to ascertain reciprocal causal relationships between the physical environment, estate policy and population demographics which helped ‘shape’ the Strath between 1780 and 1820. And, fourth, to examine how the effect of land improvement led to the estate's vulnerability and the subsequent response to the recurrent economic depressions of 1810–1820.
Tindley, A., & Haynes, H. (2014). The River Helmsdale and Strath Ullie c.1780-c.1820: A Historical Perspective of Societal and Environmental Influences on Land Management. Scottish Geographical Journal, 130(1), 35-50. https://doi.org/10.1080/14702541.2013.838637