Highland games a highlight of Festival of Tartans

Published on July 17, 2014
Scott Bishop participates in last year's games. 

A highlight for many at the Festival of the Tartans each year is the heavy events. This year’s events will take place at the Tartan field throughout the day Saturday. Here’s a look at the games and what’s involved in each. 


Caber Toss

A long tapered pine pole or log is stood upright and hoisted by the competitor who balances it vertically, holding the smaller end in his hands . Then the competitor runs forward attempting to toss it in such a way that it turns end over end with the upper (larger) end striking the ground first and the small end, originally held by the athlete, landing in the "12 o'clock" position measured relative to the direction of the run. If successful, the athlete is said to have turned the caber. Competitors are judged on how closely their throws approximate the ideal 12 o'clock toss on an imaginary clock. Cabers vary in length, weight, taper, and balance (generally 17 to 20 feet long, weighing 100 to 140 lbs) all of which affect the degree of difficulty in making a successful toss.

Weight Toss for Height.

The athletes attempt to toss a 56 pound weight attached to a lead ring up and backwards over a horizontal bar using only one hand. Each athlete is allowed three attempts at each height. Successful clearance of the height allows the athlete to advance into the next round at a greater height. The competition is determined by the highest successful toss with fewest misses being used to break tie scores.

Weight Throw for Distance.

A metal weight attached to a chain and ring handle is thrown one-handed using any style as long as the competitor remains standing after releasing the weight. Usually a spinning technique is employed. The longest throw wins. There are actually two separate events, one using a light (28 lb for men and 14 lb for women) and the other a heavy (56 lb for men and 28 lb for women) weight.

Hammer Throw

A round lead ball is attached to the end of a flexible shaft about 50 inches long made out of wood, bamboo, rattan, or plastic. With the feet in a fixed position, the hammer is whirled about one's head, usually three times, and thrown for distance over the shoulder. Hammer throwers often employ specially designed bayonet toed boots to dig into the turf to maintain ground contact. This substantially increases the distance attainable in the throw. The competitor’s feet may not move until after the release of the hammer. Two different weight hammers are used ( 16 or 22 lb for men and 12 or 16 lb for women)

Braemar Stone

This standing put uses a 20–26 lb stone for men (13–18 lb for women) and does not allow any run up to the toe-board or "trig" to deliver the stone. Furthest distance wins.

Clachneart Stone (Open Stone)

Unlike the Braemar, the thrower can move within the area of the trig and is allowed to use any throwing style so long as the stone is put with one hand. The stone rests cradled in the neck until the moment of release - most use either the "glide" or the "spin" technique. This smooth river stone usually weighs about 16 pounds. This event is the origin of the modern shot-put.

Boot Toss

An opportunity for all the young ones (lads and lassies) to show their stuff by throwing a wellie boot for distance.

Rolling Pin Toss

An opportunity for all able maidens to show their stuff by throwing a rolling pin for distance.