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Féith na Sgòr

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Féith na Sgòr - 2nd April 2008

Féith na Sgòr is the name of the entire hill-mass between Gleann Dhé, Gleann Laoigh Beag, and Gleann Laoigh comprising the summits of Creagan nan Gabhar, An Sgòr Mór, and An Sgòr Dubh.  It also gives its name to Lochan Féith na Sgòr - the lochan on the south-western flank of Carn a' Mhaim.

As a place name Féith na Sgòr has two likely derivations - in Watson & Allan (1984) the authors offer bog-stream of the rocky hills ; adding ''The original name of the bog-stream has now been forgotten''.  I'm uneasy about that meaning ; there's something about bog-stream I don't like ; it feels too-abstract.  Fortunately I've discovered another similar meaning that I like better ; it feels concrete enough.  A letter to Seton Gordon from William Watson, dated January 13th 1925, contains a list of Gaelic place names and their meanings including Féith na Sgòr - the relevant line reads :

Féith na Sgòrr (or Sgòr - both used) bog or bog channel of the sharp rocks

- William Watson

I'm much happier with the bog-channel derivation, and to me it's a much more satisfying meaning than bog-stream.  The plateau of Féith na Sgòr is shown in the photograph ; it was taken from the summit of An Carn Liath looking northward towards An Carn Gorm, and shows how the boggy plateau of Féith na Sgòr is drained by many channels. 

As far as I know William Watson had no direct knowledge of Féith na Sgòr ; because of that, and the appearance of the plateau I'll allow myself the liberty of stretching his meaning slightly to something like bog-channels of the rocky-hills.  I think the name is a reference to the rocky summit-ridge running between Creagan nan Gabhar, An Sgòr Mór, and An Sgòr Dubh, and a boggy plateau cut by the many channels that drain it.

In 1901 the earliest contemporary reference I’ve seen to Féith na Sgòr was published in the Cairngorm Club Journal.  In the article Ballater to Lynwilg by William Skea (ccj 17, July 1901, p270-273) describing a 'tramp' in July 1900 – the author writes :

The burn [Allt nan Leum Easain], which rises between Carn Mor and Leachd nan Uidhean, has its source at an altitude of 2000 feet in the boggy plateau out of which rises Sgor Mor, from the summit of which a glorious view of the Cairngorms and Beinn a' Ghlo is sometimes obtained.  But, tell it not in Gath - at anyrate, not at Mar Lodge - when you ascend these heights, for they are the ''sanctuary'' of Mar Forest

– William Skea (ccj 17, July 1901, p271-272)

The ''sanctuary'' reference is interesting - it suggest that Féith na Sgòr was somehow off-limits in 1901 for walking, as well as shooting ; that any deer on Féith na Sgòr would not be disturbed.