Highland Games 2017
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.