Dunrobin Castle is the most politically incorrect edifice in the UK

Here we have the splendiferous Dunrobin Castle, the most politically incorrect edifice in all of the United Kingdom. In the early to mid-1800s, the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland ordered (though they did not personally orchestrate) the infamous Sutherland Clearances. This entailed forcibly evicting thousands of tenant farmers from the lands of their forefathers. Many of those driven from their modest crofts settled eventually in Canada. A few miles north of Dunrobin, at a coastal town called Helmsdale, we find a statue, The Emigrants,

commemorating those who fled to Canada — a monument endlessly appealing to photographers. An identical statue is situated in Winnipeg, where it is called The Selkirk Settlers. Yes, this is the same doubling phenomenon that occurred with the iconic statue of Robert the Bruce on his horse — one copy in Scotland, another in Calgary, Alberta.


  1. Mike Mason on February 1, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for this Ken. A story I did not know.

  2. The Furry Gnome on February 1, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    One of those unpleasant stories from Scottish history, somewhat atoned for by those sculptures.

  3. Myrna Kostash on February 1, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    "The Bitch Sutherland," as I believe Piper Gunn called her in Margaret Laurence's Diviners (an excellent source for tales of both the settlers and the Metis they met up with – quelle surprise – at the Forks). As for monuments of our various settlers in western Canada, they are invariably gendered, incl these Selkirk folk, with father-and-son combo marching resolutely forward into the Unknown Future that awaits while Mother-and-babe combo tremble and quake, looking back on the auld sod as though, on second thought, to go back home. Ukrainian families are depicted exactly the same. BTW, while meandering around Scotland in 2012 in search of Scottish stories of the Selkirk Settlement on the Red, I found only one, in Kirkcudbright, the seat of the Selkirks; the plain granite post with explanatory plaque had been erected and paid for by the Manitoba Historical Society. You can imagine my satisfaction, then, at being invited to last year's Edinburgh Int'l Book Festival with my book The Seven Oaks Reader, to bring the story back to the Scots.

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