Schiehallion – one of the world’s Holy hills?

CAMERON McNEISH, Writer & Television Presenter


ITS name has the cut and thrust of a battle-cry and it could very well be the most mysterious mountain in Scotland. It was once used to help calculate the weight of the earth and since the earliest recorded times people have lived and died on its flanks.

Schiehallion, 1083m/3553ft, translates into something much less macho than a battle-cry – Sidh Chailleann, the fairy hill of the Caledonians, but others have suggested it might mean ‚the maiden’s pap‘ or ‚constant storm‘. The latter interpretation certainly fits with the legend of the Cailleach Bheur, the blue hag who according to Rannoch legend rides the wings of the storms to deal out her icy death to the unfortunate traveller.

According to AD Cunningham’s excellent book Tales of Rannoch this old witch was once a familiar sight on Schiehallion: “Her face was blue with cold, her hair white with frost and the plaid that…

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