Schiehallion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Schiehallion
Schiehallion NW ridge.jpg
The north-west ridge of Schiehallion in April
Elevation 1,083 m (3,553 ft)[1]
Prominence c. 718 m
Parent peak Ben Lawers
Listing Munro, Marilyn
Translation Fairy Hill of the Caledonians (Gaelic)
Pronunciation Scottish Gaelic: [ʃiˈxaʎən̪ˠ]
Location
Location Perth and Kinross, Scotland
OS grid NN714548
Topo map OS Landranger 51

Schiehallion (Scottish Gaelic: Sìdh Chailleann) is a prominent mountain in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Schiehallion has a rich botanical life, interesting archaeology, and a unique place in scientific history for an 18th-century experiment in 'weighing the world'. The mountain's popularity amongst walkers led to erosion on its footpath and extensive repairs were undertaken in 2001.

Etymology[edit]

The name Schiehallion is an anglicised form of the Gaelic name Sìdh Chailleann, which translates as 'Fairy Hill of the Caledonians'. It is also known to some as 'The Maiden's Pap', or 'Constant Storm'.[2]

Location[edit]

Schiehallion lies between Loch Tay and Loch Tummel, 10 miles north of Aberfeldy in Perthshire.[3] The mountain (3547 ft/1083m) is isolated from other peaks and has an almost perfect conical shape from the west. The view of the broad eastern flank attracts many visitors to the shores of Loch Tummel.

Schiehallion is sometimes described as the centre of Scotland. The justification is that the line of latitude midway between the most northerly and southerly points on the Scottish mainland, and the line of longitude midway between the most easterly and westerly points, intersect very near the summit of Schiehallion.

Botany[edit]

The slopes of Schiehallion are rich in botanical life, with heathers, mosses and blaeberry. Blanket bog and heather moorland change colour with the seasons. The limestone pavement provides nutrients, supporting plants including dog's mercury, lily of the valley and wood anemone.[3]

History[edit]

The slopes of Schiehallion have been inhabited and cultivated since the first millennium BC until approximately two hundred years ago.[4] Schiehallion has been used for grazing sheep and stalking red deer.

Since 1999 the eastern side of the mountain has been owned by the John Muir Trust.[5]

The Schiehallion experiment[edit]

Schiehallion viewed across the River Tummel

Schiehallion's isolated position and regular shape led it to be selected by Charles Mason for a ground-breaking experiment to estimate the mass of the Earth in 1774.[6] The deflection of a pendulum by the mass of the mountain provided an estimate of the mean density of the Earth, from which its mass and a value for Newton's Gravitational constant G could be deduced. Mason turned down a commission to carry out the work and it was instead coordinated by Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne. He was assisted in the task by mathematician Charles Hutton, who devised a graphical system to represent large volumes of surveyed heights, later known as contour lines.[7]

Footpath[edit]

A Munro, Schiehallion is popular with walkers due to its accessibility, ease of ascent and spectacular views. An estimated 17,500 to 20,000 walkers made the ascent in 2000.[5] Most walkers start from the Forestry Commission car park at Brae of Foss, which lies just outside the boundary of the John Muir Trust estate. The route, which initially heads southwest before turning west to follow the main ridgeline of the hill, is about 4.5 km in length.

By 1999, when the John Muir Trust bought the estate, the main path had become exceedingly eroded by the passage of many thousands of walkers. The scar was visible from quite a distance. The organisation therefore decided to construct a new path, following a different line, better able to handle the pressure of visitors.

In culture[edit]

The Schiehallion oilfield is named after the mountain.[8] One of the major oilfields on the UK's continental shelf, it is operated by BP and situated in the North Atlantic approximately 180 miles west of Shetland.

Schiehallion was the setting for the final showdown in Grant Morrison's comic series Zenith. The Harviestoun Brewery produce a cask-conditioned lager called Schiehallion. A Scottish Country Dance ("Schiehallion") and figure, the Schiehallion Reel are both named after the mountain. Song "Schiehallion" featured on the 1994 album Time For A New Day by the independent band King Rizla.

Pipe Major Donald Shaw Ramsay composed a 3/4 march entitled 'Schiehallion'.

Croydon based band 'Schiehallion Pipes and Drums' (named for the Munro) led by Drum Major Jim (Jaimie) Gibb, has adopted the march as their signature tune, and is indeed the lead-in tune on their album Hail! Schiehallion.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Walkhighlands Schiehallion". walkhighlands.co.uk. walkhighlands.co.uk. 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Maskelyne on Schiehallion". RMS Archives. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Schiehallion". VisitScotland Perthshire. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  4. ^ Clare Thomas. "The Story of Schiehallion". archive-articles.co.uk. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "East Schiehallion Estate". John Muir Trust. Retrieved 30 January 2008. 
  6. ^ Danson, Edwin (2006). Weighing the World. Oxford University Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-19-518169-2. 
  7. ^ Danson, Edwin (2006). Weighing the World. Oxford University Press. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-19-518169-2. 
  8. ^ Rob Edwards (30 April 2000). "Conservation trust attacked for accepting oil giant's cash". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  • Computer generated summit panoramas North

Coordinates: 56°40′4″N 4°5′52″W / 56.66778°N 4.09778°W / 56.66778; -4.09778