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Sacred Hill


Schiehallion is actually 'Sidh Chailleann' - fairy hill of the Caledonians ('sidh' is like ban-'shee'). According to Ruth and Frank Morris in 'Scottish Healing Wells' (and noted in Bord's 'Fairy Sites'), there is a fairy well somewhere on the side of the hill which was renowned for healing and for granting wishes. Girls dressed in white used to bring garlands to the fairies every May day.

The John Muir Trust website at
has lots of information about the hill, including the following legend:
"Two hump-backed men lived on either side of the mountain, one near Braes of Foss and the other near Tempar. One fine summer's eve, the man from Braes of Foss went to visit his friend, walking through Gleann Mor. As he approached the cave - Uamh Tom a'Mhor-fhir - he heard the singing and dancing of fairies. He was totally thrilled and joined in the song in a melodious voice, adding a new line. The fairies were delighted with the addition and gave him three gifts - that he would be tall and lose his hump, that he would be healthy and that he would have plenty until he died.

When he got to his friend's house, the friend did not recognise him, so he told of how he had lost his hump. The friend tried to do the same, and met up with the fairies too. Unfortunately the friend had a most tuneless voice and greatly upset the fairies who cursed him, doubling his hump, making him the ugliest man on earth and making him grow bigger and bigger until he died. Needless to say, his friend no longer recognised such an ugly, giant of a man."
A curious fact is that in 1774 the Reverend Neville Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal, chose Schiehallion for his investigations into gravity (the mountain was nice and symmetrical). From these he worked out the weight of the earth and from his methods were developed contour lines on maps. You can read more at the John Muir Trust website at Seems like a suitably worthy use of a sacred hill.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th January 2005ce
Edited 3rd February 2005ce

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