Blàr Sholais (the Battle of Sollas) in North Uist was a defining point in the story of the Highland Clearances.
It took place on 2 August 1849 in the aftermath of the potato famine, when the 700 destitute crofters of Sollas who had been served with a notice of eviction in May that year and petitioned for a delay, rebelled against their landlord, Lord MacDonald. Evictions had started in July with Lord MacDonald’s men pelted with stones and forced to leave. Police forces were then brought in from Inverness to help restore order and the evictions resumed.
Led by the Sollas women, crofters hurled stones and other missiles at the police who charged with their batons with such brutal force that the local stream was renamed ‘Abhainn na Fala’ or Stream of Blood. The evictions were briefly suspended until the following spring, on the condition that crofters signed an agreement to emigrate, their cattle sold off to meet arrears.
Reporting on the incident, the Inverness Courier reported gave the Sollas people recognition throughout the highlands and due to the overwhelming public opinion in their favour and a sympathetic judge, the four Sollas men who were charged with assault, mobbing and rioting received only four months in jail.
A year later, the district was mercilessly cleared of all its remaining 603 inhabitants. It took 50 years for it to be repopulated but eye witnesses accounts to the Napier Commission such as John Morrison’s played their part in changing crofting law.
More information on visiting the area can be found here.