The Origins of Traditional Highland Games are shrouded in the mists of time… and strong drink. Although in modern times these remarkable tests of strength and skill are performed soberly, by trained athletes, the spirits of their fore-fathers burn brightly within them. Scottish Heavy Athletics is the world’s second oldest purely-unchanged sport, after Sumo wrestling.
Roughly 1500 years ago, Scots began gathering at harvest fairs and competing in various sporting events. The fastest men became messengers for the local clan chief and the strongest entered the Chief’s guard. Women competed too! Events centered around things you would find on a Scottish farm – poles, rocks, scale weights, and hammers. One can only guess that most of these events had a bit of whiskey motivation. Why pick up a 20 foot pole, run with it and flip it end over end? The Scotsman answers: Why not?
The Sherwood Forest Highland Games will commence as follows:
|10:00 a.m.||The Clachneart, or Stone of Manhood|
|Yep, just like Braveheart, Scots lifted or "put" stones to prove their worth... or machismo. Today's version is a standing put of a 22 -26lb. stone for distance. No foot movement is allowed – it is a true test of strength. Competitors will each throw the stone 3 times.|
|16lb Open Stone Put|
|The origin of the shot put. Athletes are allowed an area to toss from that is 7.5 ft x 4.5 ft. One foot must stay inside the "box" to be a legal throw. You will see a variety of techniques; athletes are allowed 3 tries each in this event.|
|11:00 a.m.||Weight Throwing|
|Often called the most graceful of the Heavy events – this event gets those kilts a-whirling! Throwers will use a variety of styles to throw a heavy weight (56 lb. weights for youngsters , 42 lb. for masters, and 28 lb. for women). Expect mighty yells of extreme effort from the athletes. Each gets 3 tries. Next, we move to the "lightweight" throws of 28 lb. and 14 lb. weights: Very fast and dynamic - expect tosses with the 28lb. lightweight of 70 feet and more - how far could you throw a 6 year old lad?|
|12:00 p.m.||Heavy Hammer Throw|
|Scots originally tossed a blacksmith's hammer or a "maul". We will use a 25 lb great hammer. Competitors feet must remain fixed as the hammer is whirled around the head and thrown backwards. A very exciting event - some think it was a type of war training for knocking an armoured knight off his horse, and some say it was practice for swinging a great Scottish claymore. Again, athletes will be allowed 3 tries each.|
|2:00 p.m.||Caber Toss|
|Gaelic for ‘post’ or ‘rafter’, this is a VERY unique event whose origins are lost in the sands of time. Why pick up a 16-20 foot-long, 80 - 150lb tree trunk from the small end, and try to balance it , run with it, and flip it end over end? The Scots don't remember, but they love it! The caber toss was actually an Olympic strength event in the early Olympics. The object is not to just flip the caber over, but to make it land straight. Tosses are judged on a clock face system with “12:00” being a perfect toss. These athletes will toss LOTS of cabers, because it's just wacky fun!|
|3:00 p.m.||Sheaf Over Bar|
|A pitchfork is used to hurl a burlap bag stuffed with jute over a horizontal bar above the competitor's head. Typical weight for the bag is 16 pounds. Three chances are given to each competitor to hurl the sheaf over the bar, without touching. After all challengers have made their attempts, the bar is raised and all successful competitors move on to the new height. This continues until all but one athlete is eliminated.|
|5:00 p.m.||Weight Over Bar|
|Competitors will use one hand to toss a 56 lb, 42 lb, or 28 lb. weight for height over a bar. Women use the 28 lb, masters over 40 use the 42 lb, and young bucks use the 56 lb. weight. This event is the hardest and usually the last - a true test of mettle. Originally, these weights were agricultural scale weights used to weigh produce. In Scotland, the weight of measure is a stone of 14lbs.|
|6:00 p.m.||Heavy Stone Lift|
|A 140 lb. marble ball is lifted from the ground to arms length overhead – as many times as possible within one minute - the record is 17!|
|80lb Dummas Stone|
|Next comes the 80 lb Dummas Stone, thrown for distance. Why you ask? Because we are proud Scots; and we honour our ancestors by competing in the same unique events for over 1500 years!|
After these events conclude, spectators are recommended to move out of the way of the athletes who will be stampeding towards the beer hall!
Would you like to compete in our Highland Games? Download the application here!