What Is A Marilyn In Geography?

Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the British Isles, can also be called a Marilyn.
Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the British Isles, can also be called a Marilyn.

A Marilyn is defined as an elevated area, such as a hill or mountain, found either in the Isle of Man, the United Kingdom or in the Republic of Ireland that has a prominence exceeding 492 feet. The definition is independent of the hill’s absolute height. The term is based on the word “Munro,” which is used to define mountains in Scotland which surpass the height of 3,000 feet. The term “Munro” is itself a reference to Monroe, the last name of mid-20th-century actress and culture icon, Marilyn Monroe, and it is from her first name that the term “Marilyn” is derived. There are a total of 2,010 mountains, hills and elevated areas that fit the definition of a Marilyn, in the world, and all of them are found in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, and Ireland.

Examples Of Marilyn

“The Relative Hills of Britain,” a book by Alan Dawson is a great resource for establishing the Marilyns found in the United Kingdom. England is home to over 170 Marilyns. Scafell Pike is the tallest of the Marilyns found in England, with a height of 3208 feet and a prominence of 2992 feet. The Marilyn is situated in the county Cumbria and is a constituent of the Snowdon range of mountains. Other considerably tall Marilyns in England include the 3117-feet high Helvellyn, the 3054-feet high Skiddaw, and the Great Gable which is 2949 feet in height. However, Scotland has the bulk of the world’s Marilyns, with a total of 1218 Marilyns. Many of the Marilyns in Scotland are situated in the Southern Highlands, where 458 Marilyns are found. There are five Marilyns in the Isle of Man, while Wales is home to 158 Marilyns. However, the list of Marilyns is regularly revised, as new studies are conducted to assess the height of the mountains and hills. Interestingly, not all Marilyns are mountains or even hills. Some are mere sea stacks such as the British Isles’ two tallest sea stacks, Stac an Armin and Stac Lee found on the St. Kilda archipelago. Another important publication, Clem Clements’ “The Hewitts and Marilyns of Ireland,” offers insight into the Marilyns found in Ireland. According to the book, there are 454 Marilyns in Ireland.

Munros, Grahams, and Corbetts

In Scotland, mountains are also classified into three other groups, depending on their respective elevation and relative height. These groups are Munros, Grahams, and Corbetts. Munros are mountains and hills that exceed 3,000 feet in height. Corbetts are the mountains with a relative height of 500 feet and elevations ranging between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. On the other hand, Grahams are defined as mountains between 2,000 and 2,500 feet in elevation and with a relative height of 492 feet. Grahams are also referred to as “LCs” (Lesser Corbetts) or “Elsies,” in some sources. In essence, many Corbetts, Munros, and Grahams also fall in the description of Marilyns.


Many of the world’s marilyns are part of larger mountain systems and are situated in protected areas. Hiking on the Marilyns is a favorite activity in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and there is even a “Marilyn Hall of Fame,” on which names of people who have climbed at least 600 Marilyns, are entered.


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