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Cabers can go in unpredictable directions.
August 7, 2013 9:39 AM   Subscribe

There is vertical throwing, too, in which people throw a 56-pound weight over a bar that is raised progressively higher. It is important to remember to step aside after you have thrown this weight. One of the heavy contestants told me that at a recent games elsewhere, a thrower forgot to move away. Staring up at the descending weight, he decided to catch it, which was not, it was explained, a good thing to do.

Novelist Alexander McCall Smith with a fond portrait of Scotland's remote Morvern peninsula and the Highland games held there.
posted by Chrysostom (17 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was a nice read, and reminded me that my own local Highland Games are coming up this weekend.
The heavy events are indeed insane, especially the vertical throw. I know exactly what 56 pounds feels like because I have a canoe of the same weight, and it's hard enough pressing it overhead to prepare for a portage. I can't imagine throwing it.
posted by rocket88 at 10:03 AM on August 7, 2013


Caber Toss will always remind me of Epyx's "World Games" for the Commodore 64. You could throw the caber and sometimes it would it you on the head, driving you into the ground like a nail.

Man, I miss those games.
posted by inturnaround at 10:20 AM on August 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Apparently there's some sort of default web page template that all chambers of commerce/tourist boards are required to use for these sorts of sites. It's uncanny.

Not to detract from the article itself
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:20 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Beautiful country.

Cabers and bagpipes.

Heavy stuff, man.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:26 AM on August 7, 2013


I have a fond memory from my youth about caber tossing. There is more to it than just strength, there is a degree of technique to doing it. We were at an event were they were doing the toss. One our weirdo friends who frequented RenFests had done it before and successfully flipped one in front a group of local football players who tormented us.

One of them tried it and successfully knocked himself out on the chin. They do go in unpredictable directions, but you can rely on the end you had in your hands heading speeding upwards towards your face if you are strong enough to try it. Which is why you move out of way of that if you've ever done it before.
posted by jeribus at 10:39 AM on August 7, 2013


Apparently there's some sort of default web page template that all chambers of commerce/tourist boards are required to use for these sorts of sites. It's uncanny.

There's multiple reasons for that- first of all, there are existing agencies that offer specialized web design packages to things like schools, or tourism locations, etc...

And secondly they're very likely to have an off the rack template, and not have the money or know how to update it on a regular basis. These things are often a one shot deal, that involved a grant. In this case, seeing at the credited web designer no longer exists, I suspect they don't have the money to update.
posted by Phalene at 10:41 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vertical throwing would be more of a challenge if the weight were squirming.

/parent
posted by Kabanos at 10:52 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very cool. In my ignorance I thought there was one Highland Games, like the Olympics. How great that they're many, with neighbors gathering to throw heavy things in villages all over the Highlands.
posted by abecedarium radiolarium at 10:58 AM on August 7, 2013


Apparently there's some sort of default web page template that all chambers of commerce/tourist boards are required to use for these sorts of sites. It's uncanny.

<meta name="Generator" content="Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution Evolution 8.0.9 - www.websitex5.com">
posted by The Tensor at 11:05 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was quite disappointed to find that it was not the "sheep toss" but rather the "sheaf toss".
posted by smackfu at 11:38 AM on August 7, 2013


"That boulder is too large. I could lift a smaller one!"
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:02 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The photo gallery in the second link has a special category for "Animal Carcasses", which seems...odd for a tourism site.
posted by echo target at 12:48 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess they do things a bit differently in Scotland then... because at the umpteen American Highland Games I've been to in the last dozen years or so they've never once used an actual telephone pole.

But due to the fact that the Scots haven't been taught Scottish history in their English school systems, there's a wide number of very colorful tales of varying validity that get showcased these days. Which, oddly enough, is probably how a true Scot would want it. Amirite?!?

My favorite such piece of lore is the story of how the modern tartan was invented.

There's also the joke about how "the whole nine yards" saying came about and the invention of the modern kilt, but even on the internet I'm not funny enough to make it humorous.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:54 PM on August 7, 2013


Scotland has its own education system and curriculum
posted by forgetful snow at 1:58 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Morvern wasn't always so empty; pre-Clearances, its population was more than 7× what it is now. It wasn't so long ago: I remember my grandfather telling me his grandmother remembered seeing the ships leaving Argyll bound for New Zealand.

What was particularly sad was that the economic advantage gained by the clearances lasted less than a generation. The sheep overgrazed the rough pasture, while Australian and New Zealand operations (partly staffed by displaced Scots) produced better wool, more cheaply, than Scotland ever could. So the Clearances, mostly finished by 1870, had no commercial value past 1890.

It is still freaky as fuck to camp in a lochside meadow, and wake up realising the low ridges in the ground you cursed and tripped over in the half-light were the foundations of cottages, and you'd pitched a tent in someone's front room. This happened to me in Inbhir Dhorrcail (Knoydart). Knoydart had cleared much earlier, partly through landowner's actions, partly through emigration.
posted by scruss at 5:40 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Scotland doesn't have an "English school system".
posted by epo at 3:17 AM on August 8, 2013


at the umpteen American Highland Games I've been to in the last dozen years or so they've never once used an actual telephone pole.

They're available, they're not going back in the ground to have wires strung on them, they fit what you need, and they save you cutting down another tree. Some of the places I've watched Highland Games in Scotland, there aren't any trees for miles anyway. Deforestation of the Highlands was a long process, nature did most of the work, and human activity almost finished the job, but the Forestry Commission is doing great work bringing it back.
posted by IanMorr at 2:33 PM on August 8, 2013


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