A History of Hill Lists

Michael Dewey gives an excellent review of hill list history in his Mountain Tables published in 1995 (with minor updating):

"The first table of mountain summits in Britain were the Scottish mountains above 3000 feet compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891 and now called The Munros in his honour. With improvements in the Ordnance Survey maps over the years the Munro tables have been regularly revised; currently there are a total of 511 tops in the Scottish Munro tables. Munro’s tables now contain other lists of lesser heights, the Corbetts, Donalds and the Grahams. The Corbetts are Scottish mountains higher than 2500 feet, but below 3000 feet. The Donalds are the 2000-foot mountains covering the hills of the Scottish Lowlands and the Grahams are Scottish Mountains higher than 610 metres but below 763 metres (metric approximations of 2000 and 2500 feet).

"The first recorded list of mountain tops in England and Wales was published in 1911 by J. Rooke Corbett and contained 130 2500-foot tops. It’s interesting to note that the term ‘peak-bagger’ seems to have been in use by this time. The next development was a list of 2000-foot tops of England, published in 1933 by the Rev W.T. Elmslie; his list is based on the then popular Bartholomews half-inch series of maps with the rule for a top being a spot height above 2000 feet. There are one or two entries in the list which are not actual summits: Red Tarn below Helvellyn, for instance, merited an entry. Others were now preparing mountain lists based on the one-inch Ordnance Survey maps, and by the 1940’s the Rucksack Club journal published tables which covered all of England and Wales.

"Until the 1970’s no serious attempt had been made to emulate Munro’s tables, distinguishing between separate mountains and subsidiary tops. George Bridge in 1973 first undertook the task, developing rules for classifying separate and subsidiary mountain tops. Bridge’s list contains 408 2000-foot tops, of which 248 are separate mountains. One year later Nick Wright published his list of English 2000s, with a ground total of 345 tops. His definition of a top was the presence of one contour ring above 2000 feet on the Ordnance Survey one-inch map, which raised the count somewhat when compared to Bridge’s earlier list. Fifteen years were to pass before the next publication on mountain tops appeared on the scene. In the intervening period the Ordnance Survey had resurveyed the entire country and, using the data had published the new series of metric maps. In 1989 John and Ann Nuttall published The Mountains of Wales (Volume 1) and in the following year The Mountains of England (Volume 2), which described ascents of their 442 2000’s using the latest information on the new Ordnance Survey metric maps."

[© Michael Dewey. Reproduced with permission]

Between 1955 and 1966 Alfred Wainwright published his 7 volumes of A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. Whilst his work was much more than a list the completion of his 214 summits has become an attractive target for very many hillwalkers.

In 1989 Dr Eric Yeaman produced the first truly metric based hill list. His prominence criterion was 100 metres and he introduced the novel idea of not setting any additional height criterion, so his list includes hills with 100 m elevation. This was a Scottish only list.

In 1992 Alan Dawson published The Relative Hills of Britain which extended the Corbett prominence criterion (rounded to 150 m) down to hills of any height across all of Britain. These hills have become known as Marilyns.

In 1995 Michael Dewey’s Mountain Tables were published. Whilst this listed all the hills in England & Wales over 500 m it was the 438 summits between 500 and 610 m which are today commonly known as Deweys.

1997 saw the publication of Alan Dawson’s Hewitts (Hills in England Wales and Ireland over two thousand feet), Clem Clements produced the Irish portion of the Hewitts together with a listing of the Irish Marilyns in the same booklet.

In 1999 Alan Dawson & Dave Hewitt published Corbett Tops and Corbeteers followed in 2004 (Dawson, Clem Clements & James Gordon) by Graham Tops and Grahamists.

In 2007 Mark Jackson pulled together the work of Eric Yeaman and Clem Clements to produce a metric based list of Britain’s 2993 HuMPs (hills with a Hundred Metres of Prominence).

Summarised, the lists in current use are:

List
 
 
AuthorWhereYearHillsAltitude
(min)
Altitude
(max)
Prominence
(min)
MunrosSir Hugh MunroS=Scotland18912843000 ft unspecified
Munro TopsSir Hugh MunroS18915113000 ft unspecified
Corbetts John Rooke Corbett S c.1946 219 2500 ft 2999 ft 500 ft
Corbett Tops Alan Dawson S 1999 450 763 m 2999 ft 30 m
Grahams Dawson/Torbet S 1995 224 610 m 762 m 150 m
Graham Tops Alan Dawson S 2004 776 610 m 762 m 30 m
Donalds Percy Donald S-Lowlands 1935 140 2000 ft   50 ft - 100 ft
Yeamans Dr Eric Yeaman S 1989 2435 100 m   100 m
Wainwrights Alfred Wainwright E-Lake District 1955-66 214 298 m   none
Nuttalls John & Anne Nuttall E/W 1989 442 2000 ft   15 m
Deweys Michael Dewey E/W 1995 438 500 m 610 m 30 m
Hewitts Alan Dawson E/W 1997 311 610 m   30 m
Marilyns Alan Dawson GB/IOM 1992 1554 150 m   150 m
Hewitts Clem Clements Ireland 1997 212 610 m   30 m
Marilyns Clem Clements Ireland 1997 455 150 m   150 m
HuMPs Mark Jackson GB/IOM 2007 2993 100 m   100 m