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Highland Games History

1938 Documentary
Image from BBC video: Caber toss at Braemar
The BBC has released this 1938 documentary on "Sport in Scotland" (in RealVideo), including hammer throwing and caber tossing at the Braemar games.

There's not much historical information about the games available on-line. Most of the best information is in book form, and often out of print and hard to find. I strongly recommend David Webster's Scottish Highland Games and Emily Ann Donaldson's The Scottish Highland Games in America, among others (if you follow the links to Amazon.Com and buy these books, highlandgames.net receives a small commission). Webster's book on Donald Dinnie is also excellent. It doesn't appear to be available through Amazon.Com, but can be purchased online at IronMind.

The information available on-line tends to be in small doses - you might find a bit of history from the web sites of various individual games, or brief mention of some local champions of the last century. Of the more substantial works, here are the most interesting:

NASGA Newsletters

I'm starting a collection of old NASGA newsletters, detailing the history of the heavy events in North America back to the late 1970s. Take a look ...

General History

The illustrated article Highland Sports and Pastimes provides an overview of the games in 1882. New!

These three articles by Charles Black used to be on the SAAA web site. They're now gone. But hey, this is the web - nothing is lost forever. See Webster's and Donaldson's books for more detail than is available here.

Jim Jardine has written a detailed History of the U.S. Open Heavy Events Championships. Excellent work - highly recommended.

Interested in how the athletes have improved over the years? Check out these record progression lists: World, US and Braemar, also Jim Jardine's history of records at the US Championships.


Donald Dinnie, the games' greatest champion. See Webster's book for more about Dinnie.

Bill Anderson, the best the 20th century had to offer, from a bio in the 1992 Santa Rosa Games program, on Jim Jardine's web site: Page 1 | Page 2.

Shannon Hartnett, many times World and US champion, and arguably one of the best all-around athletes in the world, has her own web site.


Throwing & Training in the 1890's

These articles, published in 1892, are from Outing magazine. By the 1890's the "Caledonian Games" put on by Americans of Scottish descent had largely evolved into what is now track & field, and the techniques of individual events had also evolved. These articles talk about the older styles and bring things into what was then the "modern" period.