Originally published in the Scotsman on 7 May 2016
Càrn Eighe (as it appears on modern maps) is a mountain in Strathglass to the west of Inverness. Its name has a confusing history. Nineteenth-century Ordnance Survey maps showed it as Càrn Eige ‘notch cairn’. Nearby are Bealach na h-Eige and Creag na h-Eige ‘the pass and crag of the notch’, respectively. Early mountaineering books, however, referred to this as Càrn Eighe, probably in confusion with Beinn Eighe (‘file mountain’, from its serrated outline) in Wester Ross. The confusion is understandable since the mountain in question also has a serrated outline.
The confusion does not end there however. The form Càrn Eige is itself not the correct form. Local Gaelic speakers actually referred to it as Càrn Èite. The meaning of èite is not clear, but it occurs also in Glen Etive, Gleann Èite. Possibly, the word is related to èiteadh ‘stretching, extending’.
For further research see our database: Càrn Eighe