Countdown to 56th annual Highland Games begins
Justin Grimes / (email@example.com)
Who’s the fastest runner in the village in case we need to send an urgent message to a distant clan? Or hundreds of years ago, the invitation may have read: great hunt planned, meet us on the mountain and don’t forget to bring your musical instruments and dancing shoes for the feast.
Oral tradition suggests that some version of the Highland Games has been in existence within the Celtic/Gaelic community since before the dawn of Christianity. In those days, the gatherings were most likely war games designed to select the best warriors in each tribe or clan.
We do know that during the reign of King of Scotts Malcolm III (1058 to 1093), a fairly flat meadowland, the Brae O’Mar, along the river Dee, was used for a royal contest to find the swiftest and strongest in the kingdom ... fast, with the necessary stamina to carry Malcolm’s messages across the land.
Today, the meeting place for the feast and competition is MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain, where the world’s largest gathering of Scottish clans takes place each July. Upwards of 40,000 people from all over are expected to travel to the High Country and enjoy the festivities this summer.
The Games’ field of competitors includes world champion highland athletes.
caber toss is probably the best known and a popular event of the Highland Games. The caber
(telephone pole) is a hewn tree that spans from 16 to 20 feet in length and weighs from 70 to 130
pounds. Athletes crouch and carefully cup the pole in their hands, pop it up as they stand, run as
many steps as they deem necessary and then toss it into the air. The desired result is a caber
that turns end-over-end and comes to rest directly at 12 o’clock in front of the athlete.
Other crowd pleasers are kilted men doing battle in highland wrestling and tug-a-war.
More typical track and
field events are also held at the Games, which has its own 440-yard oval track at the Meadows.
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