Highland Heavy Games

The traditional Highland Heavy Games go all the way back to the 11th century and possibly even before that in the Scottish Highlands. The same games, under the same rules, will be played once again on Sunday, July 16th on Steamboat Landing, one of Maine’s most beautiful athletic venues, with our Master of Ceremonies James Rodden.

Anyone is welcome to join the Highland Heavy Games competition for a $10 entry fee. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. The games start at 9:00 a.m. and continue until about 2:00 or 2:30 p.m. Different weight classes are offered for men and women in each event. It will be a long and hard day for the athletes, as the Highland Heavy Games test the strength and coordination of each competitor to their maximum. It is like watching the Olympic games firsthand, but in Celtic cultural form and tradition.

The Caber Toss is probably the best-known Heavy Games event. The athlete holds up and balances a long tapered pine pole in his hands, then runs forward and launches the caber and tries to flip it end over end the longest distance of any other caber toss.

An Open Stone Put is similar to a shot put, yet with a heavy stone as the object. The stone can be thrown by any method as long as the toss begins with the stone in one hand cradled in the athlete’s neck.

There will be a Heavy Weight Throw and a similar throw with weights not quite so heavy. Weights are metal with handles attached, thrown with one hand by the athlete, some putting a spin on their toss. Again the longest throw is the winner.

In the Weight Over the Bar event, the athlete heaves a very heavy weight over a horizontal bar. Each competitor gets three tries, and those who are successful move to the next level by raising the bar until only one is left.

If time allows, this year’s Games will also feature the Scottish Hammer Throw. A heavy metal ball is attached to a four-foot wooden shaft. With both feet in fixed position, the athlete whirls the hammer overhead and then tosses it forward in an attempt to reach the longest distance.

Whether you decide to compete or just watch, you will certainly be impressed by the individual strength and power of the serious competitors in these tough contests. If you are considering testing your strength in the Highland Heavy Games, you may contact Sam Denson via  for more information or to register.

 


James Rodden   (Master Of Ceremonies)

This year we are pleased to introduce James Rodden as the Master of Ceremonies for the Highland Heavy Games. Born in St Andrews in the Kingdom Of Fife, Scotland, James is the forth son of a proud Fife coal miner.

James enlisted in the Black Watch at age 15 as a bandsman and drummer. Selected to undergo specialist infantry training, he was promoted to staff sergeant and served in various units in intelligence and active operations. He then became a senior instructor at Fort George, Invernesshire. James next volunteered and was accepted into the 22nd Regiment, Special Air Service, where he specialized in H A L O jumping.  James’s last year of service was spent at Fort Bragg, NC instructing the above. James’s three brothers also served in the Black Watch. Brother Michael was a drummer in the pipe and drum corps which led President John F. Kennedy’s funeral cortege.

On completion of military service, James enrolled in St Andrews University. While studying and writing and preparing for his new educational directions, he was employed within Lord Roberts Workshops, in Dundee, Scotland, cabinet makes for the British royal family. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth would annually visit the workshops.  She knew James personally because of her position as Colonel In Chief of the Black Watch. She always called him by his first name!

A personal message from James:

I am very proud and honored to have been asked to perform the duties of Master Of Ceremonies at the Maine Celtic Celebration Highland Heavy Games.

The connection I have with your county is that I have married a wonderful American lady, whom I have known for some time, and who also has strong family connections with Scotland. Now, our home is in Maine.  Though it took a long weary battle, the United States of America finally welcomed me. The welcome I received from the St Andrews Society of Maine, showed me the hospitality the Scots are renowned for.

The reason for telling this story is very simple.  If there is any Scottish blood within ANYONE that reads this story, they will know immediately what I mean when I say that the Scottish spirit isn’t something that dies easily. It isn’t something that can be worn by time, nor be denied, nor can it be copied. The spirit of the Scot was worn by hardship and forged by enemies and people that would try to oppress us. However no one could contain nor control the true spirit of the Scots. The fighting Scot, the proud, the inventive, the pioneering, but more importantly, the loving Scot.

Being present at a Highland Games and festival, will give newcomers a taste of Scotland, but more importantly a taste of the spirit I have described.  Those people returning to the Celebration will again experience the companionship and camaraderie required by the Scots to flourish. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to share time with you all, and be allowed to have my Scotland, my love, and my home here with you today.

God Bless You ALL
Alba an Aigh

JAMES RODDEN