The highland games are festivals held throughout the year in Scotland and other countries as a way of celebrating Scottish and Celtic culture and heritage. In their original form many centuries ago, Highland games revolved around athletic and sports competitions. Through these competitions the king would select the finest athletes to be his personal guard and entourage. The games were also a way for the clans to demonstrate their relative strength to each other without actually having to go to war. Some of the implements used in the games were created as alternatives to traditional weapons when England forbid any Scotsman from bearing arms. Though other activities were always a part of the festivities, many today still consider Highland athletics to be what the games are all about—in short, that the athletics are the Games, and all the other activities are just entertainment. Regardless, it remains true today that the athletic competitions are at least an integral part of the events and one—the caber toss—has come to almost symbolize the Highland games. Although quite a range of events can be a part of the Highland athletics competition, a few have become standard.
Highland games revolve around athletic and sports competitions and along with the Pipers and Dancers. The Caber toss has come to almost symbolise Highland games all over the world.
The Heavy Games competition:
- 22lb Braemar standing stone
- 26lb glide shot put
- 56lb weight for distance
- 28lb weight for distance
- 22lb Scottish hammer
- 166lb Caber toss
- 56lb weight over the bar
Tossing the Caber
The caber is not thrown for distance but for style. The primary objective is to toss the caber so that it turns end over end, falling away from the tosser. Ideally it should fall directly away from the tosser in the "12 o'clock" position. The distance thrown is unimportant. The tosser balances the caber upright, tapered end downwards, against his or her shoulder and neck, the caber being supported by stewards or fellow-competitors while being placed into position. The tosser then crouches, sliding their interlocked hands down the caber and under the rounded base, and lifts it in their cupped hands.
While standing, the tosser must balance the caber upright; this is not easy with the heavier end at the top, and less-experienced tossers may be unable to stop the caber falling to one side after lifting it. The tosser then walks or runs a few paces forward to gain momentum, and flips the tapered end upwards so that the large end hits the ground first, and, if well tossed, the caber falls directly away from the tosser. Weight and strength are essential for success, but technique is also important for balancing the caber when lifting it, and flipping up the held (tapered) end to promote a clean toss.
Kettle over the Bar
This event involves throwing a 56lb weight with a handle over a cross bar for height using one hand only.
Braemar Stone Put
A throw with one hand from a standing position, and requires the stone to remain against the next or shoulder throughout the throw until the release.