Friday Photo; Glen Tolsta

Opening in An Lanntair tomorrow is a new exhibition by Anne Campbell, Mairi Morrison and Ishbel Murray called ASTAR Glen Tolsta.  The three artists collaborated on project about Glen Tolsta, a now almost abandoned settlement in between Tolsta and Gress, where cleared families from the Pairc district of Lochs settled in 1843.

The crofters were driven from their homes in Lemreway and Orinsay under false claims of sheep stealing.  The party that forced the families from the land included the infamous Donald Munro.  The party failed in their first attempt to clear the land in 1842, but returned in 1843 to knock down the houses of crofters, leaving them with no choice but to move on.  The crofters had to walk their animals from the South end of Lochs up to Glen Tolsta, while their families were transported by boat to their new settlement.  Unfortunately, no shelter was waiting for them in their new village, and the families had to spend their first few months sleeping in the upturned boats they arrived in.

You can read more about the families driven from their homes in Pairc and the characters that placed them in Glen Tolsta on the North Tolsta Historical Society Website.  The Society generously provided us with the above photos of Glen Tolsta taken late last year, showing the first ‘white house’ built in the Glen, which was owned by Donald Macmillan or Dòmhnall Toull.  It is now in ruins, but has carved on its wall the names of Tolsta lads from various decades of the last century. 

Linked in with the exhibition in An Lanntair is a radio show by Catriona Murray on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal on Monday 20th February at 1.30pm and 10pm.  The exhibition and radio programme look set to be very interesting, so be sure to turn up and tune in!


About David Powell

Project Manager and Archivist with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar
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One Response to Friday Photo; Glen Tolsta

  1. Descended from one of the families who were Cleared from Orinsay in 1843, I have researched a little into the subject and these four pieces may be of interest:

    I should mention that this research is ongoing and I am attempting to compile a clearer picture of Donald Stewart’s activities lasting over several decades in Lewis & Harris!