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a new documentary

We’re a very loving loyal people and we want to be loyal to our families and our chiefs. But if we really want to be true to our roots, we would cut their throats. (Frank Vance, Educator, Former General Manager, Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, North Carolina)

Donald MacLeod w:flames no black border

This is the story of the Scottish Highlanders and their clan chiefs torn apart by a rapidly changing world—feeling their trust betrayed, many Highlanders faced famine and poverty, or emigration to the New World—while some of their overlords squeezed revenue by any means necessary from these beautiful, unforgiving hills.

cropped-Croik-Gravestones-no-border.pngThose that escaped the Highland Clearances faced new hardships as well as opportunities, though still bearing the scars of their bitter struggle; this is the legacy that their descendants still wrestle with today.


The Highlanders came to eastern North Carolina. They were down in Anson County and South Carolina and we have sorted of mixed those two cultures from the Highlands and from the Lowlands of Scotland. They came together here in the mountains. (Frank Vance)

For some, the history is still unknown, and for others, the history becomes fantasy. 

And for others of Scottish descent, the Clearance story is so powerful that it becomes an assumed part of their family history.

Scottish heritage is celebrated worldwide today—what are the relics of Highland culture from before the Clearances? What has been reinvented? And where does the real tradition end and the myth begin?


Voices Over the Water is a documentary in progress which will show the controversial and heated arguments spanning centuries. Stay tuned for updates as we near completion.