The Geographic Center of Scotland
A cross marks the spot in a small Scottish village that claims to be the exact center of the country.
There’s a fair amount of debate surrounding the actual geographic location of Scotland’s center. One supposed site lies in the Glentruim Estate, located a few miles outside Newtonmore, a small village of fewer than 2,000 people in Cairngorms National Park. It’s marked by a cross set in the drystane (drystone) dyke on the side of the road.
There are a variety of methods used to calculate the true center of Scotland. Each returns its own results, making pinpointing the most accurate location a difficult task. The spot just outside Newtonmore was determined as the midway point between the furtherest point from the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The Ordnance Survey marked the location with a stone and plaque, but they were stolen and never replaced. After locals advocated for a new marker, the current cross and plaque were unveiled in June of 2015. The mapping agency has been hesitant to designate a permanent location because of how the geographic center shifts over time due to factors like coastal erosion.
Indeed, two other destinations have been candidates for the true center of Scotland, determined by calculating the country’s mathematical center of gravity. Essentially, this method is the numerical equivalent plopping the country onto a tipping point and searching for the sweet spot that allows it to stay level.
When attempting to determine the mathematical center of gravity of mainland Scotland and its outlying islands, the Ordnance Survey determined the country’s center lies atop a hillside near Loch Garry. When focusing solely on the mainland, the center was found to be slightly east of Mount Schiehallion, the mountain used during a 1774 experiment attempting to measure the Earth’s average mass. Nevertheless, Newtonmore maintains that its monument marks the true heart of the country.
Know Before You Go
The road is very narrow be careful. Nearby is the MacPherson Memorial, worth a walk down the road from the Center plaque if only for the views out into the Cairngorms.
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