No visit to Scotland is complete without a visit to one of the many Highland Games that take place between June and September each year. The first Highland Games were held more than a thousand years ago, prompted by clan chiefs and kings. Events served a variety of sporting, martial and religious purposes. The Clan Chiefs used the games to recruit people - race winners made good messengers at a time when there were no proper roads. The strongest men were employed as bodyguards, and the pick of the dancers and pipers were also chosen - both to entertain and to reflect well on the clan.
Men of the villages and parishes gathered annually on what was, for many, their only holiday to test their strength and ability against each other using the 'tools' of their trades. Hence throwing hammers, putting rounded stones, heaving weights and tossing tree trunks (tossing the caber) became the order of the day. Playing bagpipes and dancing were both incorporated into proceedings to give warriors heart for battles or to celebrate victories. Today all the same events take place, but it is all for entertainment and visitors are welcome to join in many of the competitions. Most towns in the Highlands hold their own games, some are larger than others, but all have the same friendly village fete atmosphere and are entertaining for adults and children alike.
Date: 21 July 2012