Cairn o' Mount is the name of a prehistoric round cairn in Aberdeenshire. It is also the name of the 1,480ft or 455m hill the cairn stands on, and to the road that crosses the hill, passing close to its summit and the cairn that stands on it.
The B974 Cairn o' Mount road climbs over the eastern extension of the Cairngorms between Fettercairn and Banchory. Highly exposed to any weather coming in from the east, it is well known to anyone who listens to Radio Scotland traffic broadcasts in winter, as it is often the first road to be closed by snow, and the last to open again once the weather has passed. As a hill, Cairn o' Mount is less distinguished, forming only a slight local summit on the shoulder of higher ground that rises steadily to the south-west.
Both the road and the hill gain their names from the large round cairn which has stood on top of the hill for the last 4,000 years. With a diameter of 15.5m and a height of 3.5m, Cairn o' Mount is an impressive structure, though it is debatable how much of it dates back to its original constructors, and how much has simply been added by generation after generation of passing travellers. The modern road is far from being the first to have been built here. It follows the line of a military road built by General George Wade in the 1700s; and he in turn simply formalised a route that had been used by, amongst many others, the English army of Edward I in 1296, Macbeth on his way to defeat at the Battle of Lumphanan in 1057, and the Roman army of Julius Agricola in AD84.
In different times and in different contexts, Cairn o' Mount, whether it refers to the cairn, the hill, or the road, has been spelled in slightly different ways. We stick with "Cairn o' Mount" because it is the spelling used on Ordnance Survey maps. But "Cairn o' Mounth" is a variant that is also sometimes used, and is perhaps more correct, as the range of hills it crosses is often called the Mounth. An earlier variant of the name was "Cairnamounth".