The modern Highland Games are known for the nine events, the kilts, the festival atmosphere, and for impressive feats of athleticism. But the Games we know today have deep roots in history.
The history of the Highland Games is said to date back to 1500 BC, when the Tailtieann games were established–funeral games held in honor of the recently deceased. Events back then were mixed with sword fighting, chariot racing,and even creative competitions like weaving and singing. It bore some resemblance to the ancient Greek Olympics. Later, this evolved into the Tailteann Fair, which was known for its mass marriage ceremonies. This fair died out after the Norman conquest of England. However, the spread of the Irish to Scotland brought the seeds of the modern Games with it: caber toss and throwing weights.
In the 11th century, the first Games were organized in Scotland, allegedly as an attempt to find the swiftest and strongest messenger for the king. Every year, they continued, up until the Battle of Culloden in 1746, when an act was passed under English law forbidding the Scots from partaking in their cultural traditions.In 1781, the ban was lifted, and in 1848, Queen Victoria visited the Braemar Gathering and made the Highland Games fashionable once more.
Since then, The Highland Games have flourished and spread throughout the world, and 23 countries are affiliated with the International Highland Games Federation.