Grampian Mountains

Grampian Mountains

''This article is about a mountain range in Scotland; for other uses see: Grampians. The Grampian Mountains or Grampians (Am Monadh in Gaelic) are one of the three major mountain ranges in Scotland, occupying a considerable portion of the Scottish Highlands in northeast Scotland.


There is probably more confusion about the extent of The Grampians than any other mountain range in Scotland. The reasons for this can be partially explained by the fact that the name Grampian was used by the local independent television station Grampian Television, as well as being used to designate a large area of the north-east of Scotland following the Regionalisation of Scotland in 1975. Largely for those reasons - at least in the minds of people from outside the area - the name of the mountain-range has become synonymous with the area served by Grampian Television, and that administered by the former Grampian Region.

Map makers too - being outsiders - have often added to this confusion by stretching the name across large sections of eastern Scotland. Local writers however, such as Wyness (1968) and Watson (1975) - for example, suffer no such confusion. In the introduction of Wyness (1968) the author, writing about Deeside, puts the northern-edge of the Grampians at the River Dee when he writes:

Clearly then - Wyness defines the Cairngorm as being the range of mountains running from ‘immediately south of Aberdeen’ westward to Beinn Dearg in the Forest of Atholl.

In Watson (1975) the author - while defining the extent of the The Cairngorms - specifically excludes the range south of the River Dee, writing:

Clearly then - both Wyness and Watson roughly agree where the eastern, northern, and western limits of The Cairngorms lie.

The Grampians extend southwest to northeast between the Highland Boundary Fault and Gleann Mòr (the Great Glen), occupying almost half of the land-area of Scotland. This includes the Cairngorms and the Lochaber hills. The range includes Ben Nevis (the highest point in the British Isles at 1,344 metres above sea level) and Ben Macdui (the second highest at 1,309 metres).

The mountains are composed of granite, gneiss, marble, schists and quartzite. The other major mountain ranges in Scotland are the Northwest Highlands and the Southern Uplands.

A number of rivers and streams rise in the Grampians: the Tay, Spey, Cowie Water, Burn of Muchalls,Burn of Pheppie, Burn of Elsick, Cairnie Burn, Don, Dee and Esk. The area is generally sparsely populated.

History and name

The name Grampians is believed to have first been applied to the mountain range in 1520 by the Scottish historian Hector Boece, an adaptation of the name Mons Graupius, recorded by the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus as the site of the defeat of the native Caledonians by Gnaeus Julius Agricola circa 83 AD. The actual location of Mons Graupius, literally 'the Graupian Mountain' (the element 'Graupian' is of unknown significance), is a matter of dispute among historians, though most favour a location within the Grampian massif, possibly at Raedykes, Megray Hill or Kempstone Hill.

In the Middle Ages, this locale was known as the Mounths, a name still held by a number of geographical features. Up until the 19th century, they were generally considered to be more than one range. This view is still held by many today, and they have no single name in the Scottish Gaelic language or Doric dialect of the Lowland Scots. In both languages, a number of names are used. Grampian Region was translated into Scots Gaelic as "Roinn a' Mhonaidh".

A noteworthy historic route connecting Aberdeen to southern coastal points was called the Causey Mounth, an elevated stonework structure in many locations because of the crossing of numerous bogs, most notably the Portlethen Moss. This route played numerous roles in the Covenanters history and Bishops' Wars since it formed the only passable and strategic connection from Dunnottar Castle to Muchalls Castle to the Bridge of Dee. Another notable crossing of the Grampian Mounth is known as the Elsick Mounth, which trackway was taken by the Roman army on their march northward from Raedykes to Normandykes. That march used the Elsick Mounth, in order to avoid the lowland bogs such as Red Moss lying west of Netherley.


See also

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