High­land Games 2017

The Oban Times - - Feature -

THROUGH­OUT the land, dancers and pipers are re­hears­ing, ath­letes and heavy ath­letes are step­ping up their train­ing and High­land games com­mit­tees are hold­ing meet­ing af­ter meet­ing to make sure that ev­ery­thing runs smoothly on their big day.

High­land games have a long and sto­ried his­tory in Scot­land. They be­gan as a way for kings and clan chiefs to se­lect their en­tourage. The fastest run­ners were cho­sen to de­liver or­ders or mes­sages and rally the clans, while the strong­est men be­came per­sonal body­guards. The ham­mer throw and the shot putt started as High­land sports, and are now part and par­cel of the in­ter­na­tional sport­ing cir­cuit. The best dancers and pipers were em­ployed to en­ter­tain in the chief’s house­hold and com­pose tunes and dances that ex­alted the virtues and war vic­to­ries of the clan.

When not at war, the clans would hold com­pe­ti­tions be­tween their ath­letes, dancers and pipers, who could gar­ner great hon­ours for the clan through their feats. Even­tu­ally, when­ever there was any large gath­er­ing, horse fair or mar­ket, games might be held as part of the over­all fes­tiv­i­ties.

Af­ter the 1745 Rebellion, High­land sport, dress and music were banned, but by the 1820s, games be­gan to creep in once again. Un­der Queen Vic­to­ria, tar­tan made an of­fi­cial come­back and the mod­ern High­land games be­gan to evolve.

High­land games are now cel­e­brated all over the world as those of Scots de­scent and those who just love the Scot­tish spirit take up the ham­mer and caber and proudly wear tar­tan. In fact, the big­gest games in the world are held in High­land, North Carolina, in the United States.

But for the au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence, vis­i­tors won’t want to miss true High­land games. Danc­ing, pip­ing, track and field, and races are ex­cit­ing to watch and hear. Par­tic­i­pants can even join in, as many games fea­ture foot races or other events for au­di­ence mem­bers.

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