The Historical Braemar Gathering
If you’ve ever wanted to attend one of the many legendary Highland games in Scotland, the Braemar Gathering would be an excellent choice. With a history that dates back at least 900 years, the popularity of this ancient Highland festival is clearly reflected in its continued existence and support.
It is said that the Braemar Gathering in Scotland was likely started during the 11th century when King Malcolm Canmore visited Braemar. At that time the festivities would have been somewhat different from what they are today – with the focus being on hunting, feasting and tests of strength and courage. The festival customarily took place in autumn when the deer were fat, so hunting played a major part in the festivities. During these ancient games, competitions were held to determine who was the strongest, the fleetest and the most skilled warrior and deaths often resulted in these brutal contests. The evening’s events were usually somewhat less gruesome, with storytellers and pipers taking center stage to provide feasters with entertainment. Things changed shortly after September 1715 when the gathering was used as a pretext to plan a Jacobite uprising. The violence and bloodshed of the uprising caused all Highland gatherings to be banned for a time. Despite this, a huge crowd would gather in Glen Dee in Braemar on an autumn day each year to celebrate “The Gathering”. However, the games had changed somewhat by this stage and many of them started to resemble the same games that you can see at the Braemar Gathering today.
The Braemar Gathering was well established by the year 1800 and was run by BRHS from 1832 to 2001. Thereafter it has been organized by BRHG Ltd. The gathering has become famous for being one of the few Scottish events, which are attended by the royal family. This royal patronage dates back to 1848 when Queen Victoria first attended the event and was delighted enough to continue supporting the event.
Today, the event has come a long was from the initial £5 prize money that was supplied by the Highland Society at the first officially sponsored gathering in 1832. Today the total prize money amounts to over £12,000 and there are as many as 66 different events. These include highland dancing, piping, tossing the caber, putting the stone, throwing the hammer, sprinting, a relay race, a hill race up Morrone, long jump, tug of war and a children’s sack race. Many of those taking part are international athletes and the competition is fierce. So enjoy the festivities of the Braemar Gathering on the 1st of September 2007 at Braemar. It’s a memorable event!