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|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Swedish Wikipedia. (December 2009)|
A fell (from Old Norse fell, fjall, "mountain") is a high and barren landscape feature, such as a mountain range or moor-covered hills. The term is most often employed in Scandinavia, the Isle of Man, parts of northern England, and Scotland.
The English word fell comes from Old Norse fell, fjall (both forms existed). It is cognate with Icelandic fjall/fell, Faroese fjall, Danish fjeld, Swedish fjäll, and Norwegian fjell, all referring to mountains rising above the alpine tree line.
In Northern England, especially in the Lake District and in the Pennine Dales, the word fell originally referred to an area of uncultivated high ground used as common grazing. This meaning is found in the names of various breeds of livestock, bred for life on the uplands, such as Rough Fell sheep and fell ponies. It is also found in many place names across the North of England, often attached to the name of a community; thus Seathwaite Fell, for example, would be the common grazing land used by the farmers of Seathwaite. The fellgate marks the road from a settlement onto the fell (see photograph for example).
"Fell" can refer to any one of the mountains and hills of the Lake District and the Pennine Dales. This meaning tends to overlap with the previous one, especially where place names are concerned: in particular, names that originally referred to grazing areas tend to be applied to hilltops, as is the case with the aforementioned Seathwaite Fell. In other cases the reverse is true; for instance, the name of Wetherlam, in the Coniston Fells, though understood to refer to the mountain as a whole, strictly speaking refers to the summit; the slopes have names such as Tilberthwaite High Fell, Low Fell and Above Beck Fells.
Groups of cairns are a common feature on many fells, often marking the summit — there are fine examples on Wild Boar Fell in Mallerstang Dale, Cumbria, and on Nine Standards Rigg just outside Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.
As the most mountainous region of England, the Lake District is the area most closely associated with the sport of fell running, which takes its name from the fells of the district. "Fellwalking" is also the term used locally for the activity known in the rest of Great Britain as hillwalking.
The word "fell" also enjoys limited use in Scotland, with for example the Campsie Fells in Central Scotland, to the North East of Glasgow. One of the most famous examples of the use of the word "fell" in Scotland is Goat Fell, the highest point on the Isle of Arran. Criffel and the nearby Long Fell in Galloway may be seen from the northern Lake District of England. Peel Fell in the Kielder Forest is situated on the border between the Scottish Borders to the North and the English county of Northumberland to the South.
In Norway, fjell, in common usage, is generally interpreted as simply a summit of greater altitude than a hill, which leads to a great deal of local variation in what is defined as a 'fjell'. Professor of geography at the University of Bergen, Anders Lundeberg, has summed up the problem by stating that "There simply is no fixed and unambiguous definition of 'fjell'." For all practical purposes, however, 'fjell' can be translated as 'mountain' and indeed the Norwegian language has no other commonly used word for mountain.
In Sweden, "fjäll" refers to any mountain or upland high enough that forest will not naturally survive at the top, in effect a mountain tundra. 'Fjäll' is primarily used to describe mountains in the Nordic countries, but also more generally to describe mountains shaped by massive ice sheets, primarily in Arctic and subarctic regions.
In Finnish, the mountains characteristic of the region of Lapland are called tunturi (plural: tunturit). In Finnish, the geographical term vuori is used for mountains recently uplifted and with jagged terrain featuring permanent glaciers, while tunturi refers to the old, highly eroded, gently shaped terrain without glaciers, as found in Finland. (Also, tunturi is used to refer to treeless plains at high altitudes in far north regions, as well.) They are round inselbergs rising from the otherwise flat surroundings. The mountains in Finnish Lapland reach heights of up to 400 and 800 metres, where the upper reaches are above the tree line. Those that do not reach the tree line, on the other hand, are mostly referred to as vaara. The mountains in Finnish Lapland form vestiges of the Karelides mountains, formed two billion years ago. The term tunturi is a loan from Sami, compare Kildin Sami tūndâr, which means "uplands, treeless mountain tract". From this expression, the word tundra is borrowed, as well.
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