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Exhibition – The Battle of The Braes

To commemorate  the 140th anniversary of The Battle of Braes, an event that gave unprecedented publicity to the history of Highland resistance and crofters’ grievances. On a rainy morning 19 April 1882, Sheriff Ivory was at the head of detachment of over 50 policemen who marched through Gedintailor without any resistance until reaching Balmeanach where they were met by the women, men and children of Braes. Surrounding the police as they attempted to make arrests the Braes folk had gathered in some strength.  The crofters refused to pay their rent until the landowner, Lord MacDonald, gave them back their traditional grazing land on Ben Lee. A Sheriff’s Officer was sent to evict the leaders of the protest in April 1882 but the eviction notices were burned.. A number of the crofters were arrested and tried in Inverness. There were a number of journalists at the trial, which gave the crofters’ grievances a wider audience.

Drawing on various archive collections the exhibition looks at events on the ground prior to the battle, its aftermath and legacy. Sharing historic archive records can teach us lessons on the past, share the voices of the underrepresented. As a result, continually learning and reflecting from the lessons they teach. Which can be reflected on those more immediately concerned in maintaining our present position in connection with the land. Voices such as Angus Stewart, a crofter from Peinchorran, so eloquently told the Napier Commission in Braes Kirk on the 8th of May 1883 “What we suffer from is poverty. We are huddled together, and the best part of the land is devoted to deer forests and big farms. If we had plenty of land there would be no poverty in the Highlands, for there is a sufficiency of land and we are willing to work it.”

The exhibition opened on Tuesday 19th April and features contributions from volunteer Grace Wright who recently completed an MA in Victorian history through the collections, focusing on women’s roles in the Crofter’s War on Skye. In her volunteering, she’s interested in calling attention to the less-told stories of the archives and in learning more about what happens behind the scenes. Additional contributions by Jenna Henry who has been at the archive centre on her Student placement from Strathclyde Uni .  To contact the Archives, please telephone 01478 614078, email [email protected], or visit the centre on Dunvegan Road, Portree.