All right folks, it’s time to talk about Scotland’s most manly export; the fucking Scottish Highland games!
Have you ever walked into an open field and seen large strongmen, wearing kilts and throwing heavy shit around? Shit such as long poles, stones, metal balls, and even bundles of straw?
Well guess what? You probably just wandered into the greatest contest of all time, a true test of manly strength, fortitude, and big brass balls!
History of the Highland Games
The origins of the Highland Games are mired in legend and story, much like the origin of Highlander. According to the Scottish Highland Games Association:
“Some say that Highland Games originated as a clan chieftain’s way of choosing the best bodyguards and the fittest fighters. Not all the chief’s requirements were warlike – musicians and dancers were important for the prestige of his household. Choosing staff and supporters was done by holding competitions – good runners for couriers, strong men for defence and a range of entertainers to amuse them during the winter evenings.”
Well personally, if I was a clan chieftain, I can’t think of a better way to choose the biggest, baddest, and strongest bodyguard I can. Take a look at the list of events that comprise the modern games today in order to fully appreciate its total badssery.
Caber? Don’t you mean Saber? Nope! A caber is a large tapered pole, typically made from a Larch tree which is typically 5.94m long (19 feet and 6 inches for you Yanks) and weighing 79kg (175 pounds). The word itself is derived from the Gaelic word ‘cabar’ or ‘kaber’ which refers to a wooden beam. According to folklore, there are two origins of this event; from lumberjacks challenging each other in manly feats of strength or the need to toss logs across narrow chasms in order to cross them.
Damn, my testosterone levels just shot up listening to that.
How is the event scored?
The objective of the event is to toss the caber so that in turns end over end, falling away from the thrower (known as a ‘tosser’, heh heh). In an ideal throw, the caber should land directly behind the tosser, or in the 12 o’ clock position. The distance thrown is actually not important, but rather the position the caber lands in. So it’s really a unique blend of strength, balance, and accuracy.
Like a shot put, except it’s a goddamned rock. Why use a rock when perfectly spherical, standard weight steel balls have been invented? Because fuck you, that’s why! The stone varies from 7 to 12kg for men (18 – 26lbs) for men and 4 to 8kg for women (8 – 18lbs). Check out this badass below, with his kilt flying in the wind like Marilyn Monroe.
Scottish Hammer Throw
Same as a modern hammer throw (another super badass event), but it’s done in kilts. One hopes the spinning action doesn’t give too much away. I like to imagine my hero William Wallace picking up a giant ball and chain and swinging around and cleaving some British heads off. The guy below’s face says it all: “DEATH TO THE OPPRESSORS!”
I’m tired for now. To be continued in Part 2……