Climate, Weather and Agriculture: The Making of a Famine

Karen J. Cullen

in Famine in Scotland - the 'Ill Years' of the 1690s

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780748638871
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653508 | DOI:
Climate, Weather and Agriculture: The Making of a Famine

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This chapter examines the origins of the famine crisis by exploring the climatic, and more particularly, meteorological reasons for harvest failure in both Scotland and many other northern European countries in the 1690s. This permits a more detailed chronology to be developed which maps the impact of these changing conditions upon Scottish agriculture. The chapter examines the extent to which the famine only occurred nationally following at least a decade of unfavourable and worsening climatic conditions which had a detrimental impact on agriculture, particularly in the Borders region and the Northern Isles. In the case of Orkney and Shetland, climatic conditions led to famine in the late 1680s and early 1690s. Examination of the adverse weather conditions which were responsible for the harvest failures and an outline chronology of the crisis are mapped out in the chapter which questions whether the famine can fairly be described as Scotland's ‘Seven Ill Years’.

Keywords: Scotland; famine; climatic conditions; harvest failure; Scottish agriculture; weather

Chapter.  11741 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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