Centre of Scotland

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Geographic Centre[edit]

Northbound Carriageway of the A9 close to the centre of Scotland including islands by OS centre of gravity method

There is some debate as to the location of the geographical centre of Scotland. This is due to different methods of calculating the centre, and whether surrounding islands are included.

In 2002, the Ordnance Survey calculated the centre using a mathematical centre of gravity method. This is the mathematical equivalent of calculating the point at which a cardboard cut-out of Scotland could be perfectly balanced on the tip of a pin. It becomes complicated when the islands are included so one simplification is just to ignore them.

The centre point including islands was found to be at grid reference NN6678471599 (56°49.0153′N 4°10.959′W / 56.8169217°N 4.182650°W / 56.8169217; -4.182650 (Geographic centre of Scotland)Coordinates: 56°49.0153′N 4°10.959′W / 56.8169217°N 4.182650°W / 56.8169217; -4.182650 (Geographic centre of Scotland)). This is on a hillside near Loch Garry, between Dalwhinnie and Blair Atholl and close to the A9 road and the railway line.[1]

Nearby, it is claimed that the centre lies a few miles from the village of Newtonmore, Badenoch. It is marked by a stone set into a wall.[2]

Eastern Slopes of Dun Coillich in Glengoulandie, east of Schiehallion

The Ordnance Survey calculated that the centre of Mainland Scotland is at NN7673153751 (56°39′33.86″N 4°0′40.37″W / 56.6594056°N 4.0112139°W / 56.6594056; -4.0112139 (Centre of mainland Scotland)). The point is 5 km east of the mountain of Schiehallion, which is sometimes claimed to be at the centre of Scotland.

Another cruder method is to take the intersection between 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. In the days when Corrachadh Mòr in Ardnamurchan was undisputedly the most westerly point, this also produced 56 degrees 39 minutes N, 4 degrees 0 minutes W, very near the summit of Schiehallion.

However the construction of the Skye Bridge, arguably turning Skye into part of the Scottish mainland, may have upset some of these calculations.

Faskally Cottages

Megalithic Centre[edit]

Less credible candidates for the centre of Scotland also exist. The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1908 suggested the megalithic Faskally Cottages Standing Stones.[3] The Society were aware of other contenders of the centre of Scotland: "Various spots have been so designated: a site at Struan, several miles to the N.W. of Faskally; also a house on the Killiecrankie road, being the most talked of besides a house in the Fair City of Perth itself."[4]

Historic Centre[edit]

The Centre of Stirling Bridge - The Heart of Scotland

Matthew Paris's map of 1247 shows a clear north-south divide to Scotland. Proverbially Stirling is the strategically important "Gateway to the Highlands". It has been said that "Stirling, like a huge brooch clasps Highlands and Lowlands together".[5][6] There is also and east-west divide as told in the story as recorded by Boece who relates that in 855 Scotland was invaded by two Northumbrian princes, Osbrecht and Ella.[7] They united their Northumberian Anglian forces with the Lowland Strathclyde Britons in order to defeat the Highland Pictish Scots. Having secured Stirling castle, they built the first stone bridge over the Forth. On the top they reportedly raised a crucifix with the inscription: "Anglos, a Scotis separat, crux ista remotis; Arma hic stant Bruti; stant Scoti hac sub cruce tuti."[8] It may be the stone cross was a tripoint for the three kingdom’s borders or marches.[9] In this way the stone cross in the centre of Stirling Bridge was the heart of Scotland.[10]

The Centre of the Central Belt and Watershed[edit]

Andy Scott Arria Cumbernauld with a poem "Watershed" incribed on its base.
The M8 towards Glasgow from the footbridge at Heart of Scotland services

The centre of the Central Belt may also be a point of interest. The Heart of Scotland services known as Harthill is close to the centre of the M8 motorway, Scotland's main road linking East with West. Cumbernauld, also in the Central Belt, is a watershed with one of its rivers (from which its name is derived) flowing to the east and the other flowing west. This watershed test could also apply to other sites like the summit of Ben Lomond being on the line of the Scottish watershed but Cumbernauld arguably has this property in its very name. A map of Scotland's watershed has been produced for walkers.[11]

The furthest from the sea[edit]

There have been other centres suggested, such as the furthest point from salt water including sea lochs. A site centred about 8 miles north of the village of Calvine on the A9 west of Blair Atholl has been suggested.[12]

As with other topics like defining the location of the North Pole the answer largely depends on which criteria you choose.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Haran, Brady (24 October 2002). "Brave hearts of Scotland". BBC News Online. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  2. ^ http://www.newtonmore.com/our-community/centre-of-scotland.html Ordnance Survey Plaques
  3. ^ McCredie, Alan (14 October 2014). "100 Weeks of Scotland: The ‘middle’ of Scotland". The Scotsman. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (1908). Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (Vol XLII ed.). Edinburgh: Printed for the Society by Neill and Company. pp. 113–121. 
  5. ^ Smith, Alexander. "quotation 1856". quoted in The Story of Stirling by Bruce Durie chapter 2. The History Press. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  6. ^ Smith, Alexander (1865). A summer in Skye. London: Sampson Low, Marston. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  7. ^ Nimmo, William; Gillespie, Robert (1880). The history of Stirlingshire. Glasgow: Thomas D. Morison. pp. 63–64. Retrieved 7 April 2017. 
  8. ^ Stewart, William; Turnbull (ed.), William B. (1858). The buik of the croniclis of Scotland : or, A metrical version of the History of Hector Boece. Published by the authority of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, under the direction of the Master of the Rolls - Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts. pp. 441–442. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  9. ^ Shearer, John Elliot (1897). Shearer's Stirling : historical and descriptive, with extracts from Burgh records and Exchequer Roll volumes, 1264 to 1529, view of Stirling in 1620, and an old plan of Stirling. Stirling: R.S. Shearer & Son. p. 17. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  10. ^ Holinshed, Raphael (1807). Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Vol 1). London: J. Johnson [etc.] pp. 203–204. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  11. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-13072554 Scotland's watershed map (bbc report)
  12. ^ http://ed.general.narkive.com/M6QunNG7/where-in-scotland-is-furthest-from-the-sea Furthest Scottish land from the sea.