The Highland Games
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- Découvrir un aspect de la thématique d'étude exploration et aventure
- Découvrir un événement culturel et sportif traditionnel écossais
- Les Highlands Games sont un
événement festif, principalement
tourné autour du sport, qui célèbre
les cultures écossaise et celtique. Parmi les
activités auxquelles on peut assister, on
- des concours de cornemuse,
- des concours de danse traditionnelle,
- du lancer de tronc d'arbre (caber toss) !!
- Ces jeux seraient nés au 11me siècle, quand le roi Malcom III organisa une course pour trouver son prochain messager royal.
- Ils furent interdits au 18me siècle, puis relancé au siècle suivant afin de contrer les politiques d'expulsion qui menaçaient la culture gaélique.
- Les Écossais ayant émigré ont emmené cette coutume avec eux. C'est pourquoi les jeux se sont exportés dans le monde, notamment aux États-Unis.
The Highland Games take place in Scotland in spring and summer but you can also attend these games in countries where the Scots have settled. They aim at celebrating Scottish and Celtic culture, especially the Highland culture, as the name implies. Although mostly centered on heavy athletics, you can find a wide variety of activities there, such as music, dance or sales of Scottish goods.
The Games date back to
the 11th century when there
were contests of strength (running, jumping, throwing and
riding) in order to find the most able men who would
become soldiers and couriers. Competition was fierce
between clan chieftains to have the best contestants.
It is said that the Highland Games were born in 1040 when King Malcolm III asked some contestants to run up Craig Choinnich as quick as possible, and the fastest runner would become his royal messenger.
In 1746, because of the crushing of the Jacobite rebellion and the Act of Proscription, Scottish customs were banned for 40 years, and no Highland Games took place until 1782.
The modern form of the Games date back
to 1856 and the period known as
the Clearances, when a great number of
tenants were evicted of the Highlands by the
landlords who needed to increase their income.
The Clearances were seen as a brutal process of
evictions that attacked the Gaelic culture of
the Highlands and something had to be done to
maintain the traditions in that part
Because the Clearances forced many Highlanders to migrate, the tradition traveled to other countries, notably North America.
The most important games are held at Dunoon
every August; they are called
the Cowal Games or
the Cowal Highland Gathering. About
3,500 people take part in the games and more than
20,000 spectators from all over the world attend
The contestants can compete in one of the four different types of activities:
- the pipe band competition,
- the solo bagpipe competition,
- the Highland dancing competition,
- the shot put,
- weight throw,
- hammer throw,
- tug o’war...
But the most popular of all is probably the event called caber toss or tossing the caber. This type of event tends to show that competitors have to be stronger than fast to be the winner. Imagine yourself carrying a tree trunk or a beam measuring nearly six meters and weighing about eighty kilos! And the aim of the game is to throw away (toss) as many tree (caber) trunks as possible into the air in three minutes. The tosser must not throw the pole further than his opponents to win; he must run forward, throw it into the air and make the upper end land on the ground before the other end touches the soil. It requires strength and technique.
Originally, lumberjacks adopted this technique to carry heavy pieces of wood before throwing them into a river when they did not have trucks or machines to help them.
The record is held by a Canadian, Danny Frame who managed to perform 16 caber tosses in 2018.
Sometimes a hill race is proposed to the contestants.
It consists in a very difficult race because the
runners have to cover at least 1.5 kilometers up a
very steep path (20 to 50%!), mostly
off-road, to win.
It looks very much like what King Malcolm III asked his future messengers to do, doesn’t it?
Just like bagpipes, kilts or whisky the Highland Games are part of the traditional Scottish culture. They can be considered as icons and cannot be dissociated from the vision people have of this country because they tell us a lot about the traditions of the Highlands. They are such a success that they are known all over the world and some countries, like the USA, are proud to perpetuate the tradition; indeed, about 30,000 spectators attend the games in North Carolina every year.
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