The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui - Am Fear Liath Mòr
Myths and Legends Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Whatever you make of it, I do not know, but there is something very queer about the top of Ben MacDhui and I will not go back there again by myself I know.”
~ Professor J. Norman Collie, 1925, at the 27th Annual General Meeting of the Cairngorm Club in Aberdeen
Beware. climbers of Ben MacDhui (the highest peak in the Cairngorms), for this is the reputed haunt of Am Fear Liath Mòr (the Grey Man of MacDhui also known as a Scottish Bigfoot)! Those who have encountered the Greyman say they first sensed a feeling of dread and panic. That sense was sometimes accompanied by the sound of eerie crunching footsteps or noises which seem to follow the climber. If you're tempting fate, most encounters tend to occur just below the skyline close to a region known to the locals as Lairg Ghru Pass! More prosaic explains include infrasound (low frequencies created by the wind which can be detected by some individuals) and natural optical illusions such as the Brocken Spectre, in which a magnified (and apparently enormous) shadow of an observer is cast upon clouds, mist, or fog opposite the Sun's direction. Regardless, beware!
In Scottish folklore, Am Fear Liath Mòr, the Big Grey Man, the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui, or simply the Greyman, is the name of a presence or creature which is said to haunt the summit and passes of Ben Macdui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms.
Those who have seen it describe it as an extremely tall figure covered with short hair, or as an unseen presence that causes uneasy feelings in people who climb the mountain. Other eyewitnesses describe it as a large humanoid standing over ten feet tall and having olive toned skin with long arms and broad shoulders. Nearly all reports of Am Fear Liath Mòr include the sound of footsteps crunching in the gravel just out of sight.
Illusions, hallucinations or misinterpretation of natural stimulus have all been proposed by psychologists as explanations. Infrasound, which can be generated by wind, can cause feelings of uneasiness and anxiety in some people and is frequently connected to paranormal sightings.
Additionally, an optical illusion known as the Brocken spectre is a plausible explanation for some visual elements of the Big Grey Man legend. This phenomenon can occur in certain atmospheric conditions when the sun is at a particular angle. The subject's shadow can be cast onto a cloud bank around them, creating the illusion of a large shadowy humanoid figure.
For real life accounts and history of Greyman sightings, click the photograph of a Brocken Spectre!
See below for the dance performed by the Skagit Scottish Country Dancers, 2011.