LivingTravelTraditional Scottish games and where to find them

Traditional Scottish games and where to find them

The traditional Scottish games were played in the first clan meetings in Scotland. Long before Scotland had a written history, men displayed their physical prowess and demonstrated their battle and survival skills in the heavy sports known as the Highland Games.

The Scottish games that are exclusive to these events, such as stone throwing, fitting and tug of war, were originally displays of manhood for the benefit of the clan leaders and, of course, the girls. The girls, meanwhile, showed off their finery and dancing skills.

The Celtic revival

The festivals, as celebrated today, are part of a general Celtic revival dating back to the early 1800s and are largely a Victorian invention. Celebrations of Scottish culture take place throughout the year, all over the world, with the largest taking place in North America.

But the best and most authentic Highland celebrations of Celtic traditions, sports and culture still take place in Scotland during the summer and early fall. They typically feature competitions in Highland dancing, pipes, solo and in bands, and picturesque heavy sports . The events included generally vary somewhat between the different Highland Games and Gatherings.

What are heavy sports?

One particular aspect of Highland Games, heavy sports include:

  • Throw the caber : the caber is a long pine trunk, almost the size of a tree. The competitor balances it vertically on their hands and then throws it to spin end to end through the air.
  • Stone Laying – Competitors throw a large stone; the weight varies according to the particular Highland Games because the stones are real stones rather than weights. At the Braemar gathering there is a lighter stone for the women to throw.
  • Hammer Throw Similar to the Olympic event, the Scottish hammer is a ball that weighs approximately 23 pounds at the end of a four-foot handle (lighter hammers are available for women in some competitions). The competitor rotates the hammer around his head before throwing it.
  • Throws weight – Generally there are two different events, one is to launch a weight attached to a handle, for distance and the other is to throw the weight over a bar high. The iron balls or cubes used in weightlifting weigh about 57 pounds.

Highland Games – Where to watch and participate

These are some of the best:

  • The Cowal Highland Meeting
    • When: end of August (in 2018 from 23 to 25 August)
    • Where: Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland
    • Website
    • What: Claiming to be the largest and most spectacular Highland Gathering, the 3-day Cowal Gathering has been held in Argyll since 1894. Events include Highland dancing, heavy sports, solo pipe and tube bands. At least 3,500 competitors from all over the world attend and there are generally around 23,000 spectators.
  • The Braemar Reunion
    • When: First Saturday in September (September 1, 2018)
    • Where: The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park, Braemar, Aberdeenshire
    • Website
    • What: One of the oldest clan gatherings, this one is sponsored by the Queen. The sponsoring Braemar Royal Highland Society has been around, organizing the games since about 1815, although they didn’t award any prizes until 1837. In fact, the meetings at Braemar have taken place, in one form or another, for about 900 years, since the time of the King Malcolm Canmore. And it has long been traditional for clans to come together to proclaim the monarch “head of the games.”
      Braemar’s modern reunion, attended by the Queen, Prince Charles and other members of the royal family, includes dance and high mountain competitions, heavy sports, various sprints and mountain races, a ‘long jump’, a strip and loosens and a childish game. sack-race.
    • Special feature: In 2018, in honor of the RAF’s centennial, the Pipes and Drums of Canada are scheduled.
    • Note: This is only a one-day event and very popular due to the presence of royalty. Tickets go on sale almost a year earlier, in November to September of the following year. If you are thinking of going, visit the website to reserve your tickets well in advance. In August 2018, tickets were still available for the September games, so it’s always worth a try.
  • Pitlochry Highland Games
    • When: mid-September (September 8, 2018)
    • Where: Recreation Ground, Ferry Road, Pitlochry
    • Website
    • What: Pitlochry, one of the last Highland Games of the season, includes the usual heavy sports, pipe and dance competitions, as well as cycling, track events and a parade of massive pipe bands.
  • Blairgowrie and Rattray Highland Games
    • When: the first Sunday after the first Saturday in September (September 2, 2018)
    • Where: Blairgowrie, Perthshire
    • Website
    • What: In addition to the usual events, this Highland Games includes demonstrations of Bird of Prey and Shinty, a Celtic game with hockey-like ball and sticks.

Links to more Highland games

  • Crieff Highland Gathering – August 19, 2018
  • Lochearnhead Highland Games Including Strathyre and Balquhidder – At Trossachs, near Rob Roy Country, July 21, 2018
  • Birnham Highland Games – Events include Mad Kiltie Dash and the Haggis World Food Championships. It takes place on the last Saturday in August (August 25, 2018).
  • Royal Burgh of Peebles Highland Games This Scottish Borders event includes all the usual sports and competitions, plus haggis tossing and sipping whiskey. It’s Saturday, September 1, 2018.

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