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Schiehallion

Nevil Maskelyne


Tour Rannoch, Schiehallion Mountain

Schiehallion, whose name means either 'the Maiden's Pap' or the 'Seat of the Caledonian Fairies' or the 'Fairy Hill of the Caledonians', is one of the most romantic and interesting mountains in all of Scotland. On the east side of the mountain lies the Maiden's Well, where on the first of May, the girls from local villages would dance and drink to bring health and good fortune for the year to come. Schiehallion also has place in scientific history, as it was on its slopes that an attempt was made to measure the mass of the earth using the displacement of a pendulum, by the then Astronomer-Royal, Nevil Maskelyne. Schiehallion Mountain was chosen for this purpose due to its isolation and conical shape. Coincidentally, many calculations to work out the absolute geographical centre of Scotland arrive at spots very close to this hill. Among those helping Maskelyne was William Mason who invented the contour line. Mason gave his name to the 'Mason-Dixon Line' which marked the boundary of the northern and southern states of America.

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