A Brief History of the Highland Games

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Highland Games competitors are passionate about their sports, whether it’s traditional caber tossing or tug-o-war, or field and track events familiar to other areas of athletics such as running, shotput or hammer.

For many competitors, taking part in the Games is part of a long and proud family tradition stretching back generations. And it’s not all about big, strong men either; traditional Highland dancing competitions and piping events also feature. Here’s a brief history of the exciting games!

action motion blur of running athlete in field with fitness
Clan Tradition

Highland Games, which now take place all over the world, are historically tied to a time when Scottish people proudly followed a clan tradition.

Often thought of as “war games” in which the fittest of men were selected for battle, clan chiefs would test out the differing skills of men in their clan family, to discover who could lift the heaviest objects or who could run the fastest, before assigning them particular roles based on their talents.

This naturally developed into sports like running events and caber toss and saw clans pit themselves against each other.

While this is sometimes depicted violently in television or film, it wasn’t all about sending men into clan battles!

Feet of Highland Dancers

Most of the time, the purpose would be to build relationships within the clan, encourage healthy competition and identify the strongest or fastest man for mundane work for the clan, such as running errands. The contest between clansmen also included pipers and dancers, who would be given the job of providing entertainment.

Today’s Highland Games

Over centuries, Traditional Highland Games have been recognised as serious events on the sporting calendar, and have their own governing body, The Scottish Highland Games Association, which was established in 1947.

The concept of Highland Games as relationship building as well as competitive also makes them an ideal option for corporate entertainment, as offered by Absolutely Scotland.

Taking part in a mini Highland Games in Scotland with your colleagues is a fun way to encourage people to work together to solve problems and build relationships that will be beneficial upon your return to the office. Contact us today for more details.