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The Paps of Jura

Sacred Hill

<b>The Paps of Jura</b>Posted by rockandyImage © rockandy
Nearest Town:Lochgilphead (38km ENE)
OS Ref (GB):   NR497750 / Sheets: 60, 61
Latitude:55° 54' 10" N
Longitude:   6° 0' 17.45" W

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<b>The Paps of Jura</b>Posted by rockandy


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John Francis Campbell’s ‘Popular Tales of the West Highlands’, concerning “the Old Woman or Witch of Jura” and her “magical powers.

There was a Caileach (old woman) in Jura who had a magic ball of thread by means of which she could draw any person or thing towards her. MacPhie (or MacDuffie) of Colonsay was in her clutches, and was not allowed to leave Jura; on several occasions he tried to escape to his native Colonsay in his boat, but always the Caileach would spot him, throw the magic ball of thread into his boat, and so bring him back to shore. Eventually MacPhie found out that the magic of the Caileach’s thread could be broken, but only if it was cut by an equally magic hatchet; thus he pretended to be content with his bondage until he found the chance to steal the Caileach’s magic hatchet, and then he made his escape from Jura in a small boat. When the Caileach noticed his absence, she rushed as usual to the top of Beinn a Chaolis, [the tallest of the Paps] and … hurled the magic ball of thread into MacPhie’s boat, but he cut it with the Caileach’s magic hatchet and made his escape. She was distraught … [and] in despair she slid down the mountain to the sea shore, pleading with MacPhie to return. But he would not, and the marks left by the old woman’s heels as she slid down Beinn a Chaolis can still be seen. They are called Sgriob na Cailich – the slide of the old woman.” The best view is from the ferry from Port Askaig to Colonsay.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
2nd January 2019ce

"Cross, on foot, a large plain of ground, seemingly improvable, but covered with a deep heath, and perfectly in a state of nature........After a walk of four miles, reach the paps (mountains in the centre of Jura): left the lesser to the south-east, preferring the ascent of the greatest, for there are three : Beinn-a-Chalaois, or 'the mountain of the sound'; Beinn Sheunta, or 'the hallowed mountain'; and Beinn-an-Oir, or 'the mountain of gold'."

Tour Of Scotland 1772
Thomas Pennant.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
24th October 2009ce


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The 'Paps' are a magnificent sight to behold. Not only do they dominate the Jura skyline, they also dominate most of Islay. Even though we were blessed with beautiful weather the Paps summits were mostly covered in clouds although they did occasionally permit us to see them in all their glory.

They must be difficult to climb but I imagine there must be an incredible view from the top? Top marks to anyone who achieves that feat!
Posted by CARL
31st July 2016ce

The energetic Pennant climbed Beinn an Oir, the highest of the Paps Of Jura, but he mentioned its near neighbour, Beinn Shiantaidh. This translates as the "Enchanted Mountain", or more precisely "the Mountain Defended by Enchantment". No archaeological information exists to confirm or deny its use as such, but the name strongly suggests that the mountain was important in the beliefs of the prehistoric peoples of lived on Jura. As Pennant notes, it is one of three grouped close together, and triplicity was thought to be spiritually powerful in the ancient world. And high places seemed to attract those who felt it was important to be near their sky-gods.

Alistair Moffat "Before Scotland"

Studying Pennants Tour Of Scotland 1772.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
24th October 2009ce
Edited 25th October 2009ce


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Youtube - Lanarkshire's channel

Ascent of Bienn an Oir, Jura.
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
11th February 2013ce
Edited 11th February 2013ce