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Year of the Sheep: A Novel of the Highland Clearances

James Y. Bartlett

Genre: Historical fiction

Based on actual events, Year of the Sheep tells the story of the Clearances in Sutherlandshire, when the Duchess told her people to leave, but one village refused.

Semifinalist in the BookLife 2021 Fiction of the Year contest.

“A fusion of the gothic novel and Virginia Woolf, this book delights in storytelling. Something mystical looms in Bartlett’s writing, making it a tale just as enchanting as its folklore.” (BookLife judge’s review)

During the Highland Clearances (1800-50), the landlords of the Scottish countryside, some formerly clan chiefs, told their people to remove themselves from their ancestral homes in the glens to make way for the coming of the sheep.

In Sutherlandshire, in Scotland’s Far North, the Duke and Duchess-Countess were notorious for the violence with which they removed the people.

In Year of the Sheep, James Y. Bartlett’s epic retelling of this story, the motivations which drove Elizabeth Gordon, who found herself the 19th hereditary Chief of Clan Sutherland are contrasted with the lives of the people of the Highland village of Glencullen, where the women, especially, led the decision to resist their town’s ordered removal.

Elizabeth Gordon had lived through the terrors of the French Revolution, when her husband, probably the wealthiest man in Britain, had been named Ambassador to the court of Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette.

But her people were country folk– subsistence farmers who believed in faeries and magick, revered Mute Meg the White Witch of Glencullen, and followed the lead of the notorious outlaw and shape-shifter known as Billy Hanks.

An epic story based on actual events, this is an unforgettable tale of romance, adventure, and a clash of the classes that still reverberates in Scotland to this day.

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