Scottish Rampant Lion Scottish Rampant Lion

Highland Games
Heavy Athletics

I have attended the Scottish Highland Games, with my family, for many years now. Each year we go to the Loch Norman HG, the Grandfather Mountain HG and the Waxhaw HG.

The Games are a blast. There are Clan tents with information and socializing, vendors tents, food tents, artists, craftsmen, musicians, Highland Dancing contests, Piping contests, Pipe and Drum Bands contests, and of course the Scottish Heavy Athletic events.

On October 25, 1997, my brother, Scott, and I participated in our first Scottish Heavy Athletics at the Waxhaw Highland Games.

Scott and Bill
Scott, myself and the athletic equipment: Pitchfork for the
Sheaf Toss, Clachneart, 26 lb. Stone, 56 lb. Stone and Hammer

There were 6 events. In the descriptions below you'll see why they are called "Heavy" events. You'll also see why most of the participants are big, brawny, powerful athletes. Scott and I participated in the same group as all of the other athletes, but at most games there are divisions for 2 levels of amateurs and one professional division.

No, we didn't win any medals, but we were very happy with our performances. There were 10 competitors total.

Bill throwing Clachneart

Clachneart (Stone Throw)
This event, "Stone of Strength", was introduced in the mid-19th century at Scottish games and is similar to the modern shot putt. Contestants have 3 tries to "throw" a 16 lb. stone, with one hand, for distance.

22' 9-3/4"(fault)38' 10-1/2"
25' 6"24' 6-3/4"Min
25' 5"25' 2-3/4"22' 9-3/4"
Bill throwing the 56 pound Weight

Weight Throw
Two different weights are used in this event: a 28 lb. weight thrown for distance, and and a 56 lb. weight thrown for height and distance. The weights are traditionally block or bell shaped and on a short chain. Timing, speed and strength are the keys to success in the throw. Contestants have 3 tries to throw each weight.

56 lb. Weight for distance

(fault)11' 3-3/4"35' 6"
15' 8-1/2"11' 11-3/4"Min
14' 7-1/2"8' 6"8' 6"

28 lb. Weight for distance

32' 1"21' 9-1/4"56' 3"
34'33' 1"Min
31' 1-1/4"27' 2-1/4"21' 9-1/4"
Scott throwing the Hammer

Hammer Throw
The modern hammer (16 or 22 lbs.) in this event is a descendant of the blacksmith's sledge hammer. The contestant must keep his feet firmly planted until after the throw.

We used the 22 lb. hammer. This was my favorite event.

43' 7-3/4"32' 3-1/2"76' 1"
46' 1-1/2"42' 6-3/4"Min
31' 4-1/4"38' 1/1"31' 4-1/4"
Bill throwing the Caber

Caber Toss
The most popular athletic event at any games requires a combination of strength, skill and balance. The Caber, a pole 18 to 20 ft. long weighing from 80 to 120 lbs. must be tossed end-over-end to land pointing directly away from the athlete. Each contestant gets 3 attempts.

We used a 20 ft. 115 lb. Caber. Scott and I both had to drop our first attempts, but then we were each able to get the Caber up and complete 2 tosses each. Out of 30 tosses (10 competitors x 3 attempts each) there were only 4 tosses that scored.

Of all of the events this was the most fun, but the hardest to complete.

Scott throwing the Caber
Scott throwing the Sheaf

Sheaf Toss
A 16lb. bag of hay is tossed by a pitch fork over a cross bar which is raised at 6 in. intervals. Each contestant gets 3 tries at each height. They are eliminated if they miss all attempts.

This was my hardest event. I didn't understand the technique of the throw. I was eliminated at 16 ft., while Scott was eliminated at 18 ft. The winner was able to toss the Sheaf over the bar at 30 ft. This was a game record.

These pages are maintained by William McLuskie.