New Hampshire Scottish Games

January 24, 2023
New Hampshire Highland Games

Previously wished to take to your hand at tossing a caber or hurling a haggis? Our guy regarding the scene Kevin (Mac)Flynn reveals exactly how to not ever do it.

By Kevin Flynn. Photos by P.T. Sullivan

Scotland has added to world culture like hardly any other nation. It's provided civilization solitary malt Scotch, the Scottish terrier, Scotland backyard, two fold malt Scotch, Scotty from “Star Trek, ” Scotch-brand miracle tape and Scotch. There is haggis and Gordon Ramsay, a few things which can be only truly associated in that undeniable fact that Scotland should apologize for both.

Yearly in New Hampshire, we get to see a part of Scottish culture that goes beyond tartans and bagpipes. The New Hampshire Highland Games, a world-class degree competitors of Scottish “heavy athletics, ” has mesmerized attendees with feats of power, agility, brawn and utter pointlessness.

The Highland Games aren't just a sporting occasion. It’s a whole three-day event at Loon hill, celebrating the foodstuff, songs and traditions of a proud, primitive tradition from days gone by. it is like NASCAR.

Though folks usually believe their particular Greco-Roman origins, the majority of the “field” occasions in today’s track and field are based on Scottish Highland Games. Competitions for instance the shot put, the hammer throw in addition to pole vault had been taken to the modern Olympiad because of the British, which — without any sense of irony or history — “acquired” the games and stated all of them with regards to their own.

For people who’ve witnessed the Scottish hefty athletics, our company is often remaining using the sensation of “What the hell did i simply watch?”

To help me personally demystify exactly what all this work heaving and hoeing is mostly about, I taught with Highland Gamer Bill Crawford of Concord. And also being a Scottish athlete, he’s your physician — as having a medical degree really will come in handy whenever starting tree trunks through the palm of the hand.

“we was raised playing baseball and wrestling, but to my family it absolutely wasn’t the Scottish games, ” says Crawford. He’s journeyed around the world in order to prove their mettle by hucking rocks and cannon ball-sized loads. At one occasion, Crawford dislocated his shoulder during warm-ups. He instructed his 11-year-old boy, Billy, how-to pop the shoulder back in destination. Crawford proceeded to participate, also winning a few of the specific occasions. After their show of tenacity and grit, he requested their child if he learned any such thing.

“I discovered you are crazy, Dad, ” he says.

Kilting Myself Softly

Highland Games tend to be a hexathlon of activities whose beginnings date to Medieval Scotland. Fighting guys would demonstrate acts of energy to join a clan. They performed such things as raising huge stones then it progressed to tossing stones, blacksmith’s hammers, lumber — fundamentally everything they might get their hands on. This really is because of the fact there were no Sports Authoritys in Medieval Scotland. Evidence strongly implies the Highland Games were devised considering boredom and alcoholic beverages.

(today, I’m unsure why I happened to be chosen because of this assignment. Even though Scots and also the Irish enjoy a standard Gaelic ancestry, we’re not exactly BFFs. In my experience, Irish heavy athletics includes carrying house a man called “Fitzy” and action dancing with this hands-down by our edges like the great Lord meant.)

One of the first occasions Crawford taught me personally ended up being the Braemar rock Toss. He told me to place the 16-pound rock under my chin — like a really difficult and uncomfortable pillow — twist my torso then heave it to the atmosphere like punching a huge into the nostrils. (in the event that you’ve heard the term a “stone’s dispose of” for a place, in my own case that location is about 37 ins in front of you.)

The Braemar rock Toss began with an oomph for Kevin Flynn, but finished with thud, 37 inches away.

Then up ended up being putting a metallic body weight for distance. The extra weight had been attached with a handle and string. The key is within the wind-up: to master a smooth heel-over-foot body spin that maximizes the growing inertia for the accelerating weight. Another strategy is letting go associated with handle, that has been a finer point that Crawford forgot to say to me.

Another distance competition is the Hammer Throw. Unlike in track-and-field, that is an actual hammer. Or at the minimum, a metal baseball fused into a four-foot synthetic handle to check like a hammer. The strategy is turn the hammer over your head like David Ortiz at the dish, then allow it fly from your own arms behind your back like a Jerry Lewis picture gag. The throw is most effective whenever saying an instant prayer of contrition for hurting any spectators prearranged behind you. I’m perhaps not saying this event is “hazardous, ” nevertheless area of play has actually a location literally called “the eliminate area” for errant hammers.

Standard loads for hammer throw are 16 and 22 weight for the guys, and 12 and 16 weight for the women. Based on the rules as posted on, The hammer will be tossed in a standing style. However some motion of the foot ahead of the release is permitted, there will probably be no approach additionally the rival is certainly not allowed to spin your body.

After throwing heavy things for long distances, professional athletes additionally must show their particular power by throwing hefty things floating around. In a weight-for-height event called Weight for Height, Crawford demonstrated just how to fling a 54-pound material weight floating around, backwards and over a pole. The pole is raised with each successive toss. The strategy is comparable to moving up a gallon jug of milk regarding the kitchen counter while unloading the groceries. The actual only real huge difference could be the jug would have to consist of 6 ½ gallons of milk.

Perhaps it absolutely was witnessing a lot of Wile E. Coyote cartoons as a kid, but anything about tossing a hand-held anvil straight up in the air while standing beneath it lifted some warning flags for me personally.

Next up within these farmer Olympics was the Sheaf Toss. Participants use a three-pronged pitchfork to heave a 20-pound case of hay up over the pole. There's — and I’m perhaps not making this up — “controversy” in the Scottish hefty athletic neighborhood about whether or not making use of a two-pronged pitchfork is cheating, as it provides less friction in the case. There is also some question concerning if the origins of this event are authentically Scottish. We, but imagine the video game is made by some enterprising older sibling which devised it in a Tom-Sawyer-isn’t-it-fun-to-paint-the-fence?-type of barn prank to play on a younger sibling.

Principles regarding the Sheaf Toss suggest that any style of tossing can be used which considered safe because of the judges. The Sheaf Toss is a great exemplory instance of the practical region of the Scottish Heavy Athletics since throwing hay in to the environment was thought to absorb moisture and steer clear of foul weather that might trigger bagpipes to go out-of-tune and cause permanent ear harm.

The signature Highland Games occasion may be the Caber Toss. This is the competition where participants grab and run with a 20-foot-tall, 175-pound larch tree, after that flip it in the air.

Highland Gamer Bill Crawford of Concord shows an ideal toss for the caber. Incidentally, when not kilted, our brawny instructor Bill Crawford features a whole opposite side to him. Their day work can be as a hospitalist (a health care provider just who works solely in a hospital) at Concord Hospital. He’s been looking after clients there since 2004. Their impressive background includes a degree from ny Medical College, a surgical residency at Lahey Clinic and a family medication residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital.

New Hampshire School of Scottish Arts Pipes and Drums
New Hampshire School of Scottish Arts Pipes and Drums
Caroline Dressler: 2012 New Hampshire Highland Games
Caroline Dressler: 2012 New Hampshire Highland Games
Scottish Games
Scottish Games
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