Heavyweight Athletic Competition

Heavy Athletics are traditional Scottish athletic competitions which require significant strength, power and agility,
as opposed to the light athletics, such as highland dancing and running, which require stamina.

Heavy Athletics brings world class amateur competitors to the Connecticut Highlands to put the Stone,
and toss the Caber, the Hammer, the Weights and the Sheaf (no sheep are used or harmed in this event!).
Our Amateur Heavyweight Competition includes events for women and men, masters' classes and novice.

Amateur Heavyweight Competition Events
16 lb Hammer Toss - the ancient ancestor of the modern Olympic hammer throw
18 lb Stone Put - the ancient ancestor of today's shot put
28 lb Weight (Distance) - a 28lb weight thrown for distance
56 lb Weight (Distance) - a heavier 56lb weight thrown for distance
56 lb Weight (Height) - the heavy weight thrown over a bar for height
Sheaf Toss - a pitchfork is used to throw a sheaf (bag of hay) over a bar for height
Caber Toss - the signature event of the Highland Games, an 18-20' log tossed in a 12 o'clock flip

Click here for Amateur Heavyweight Competition Registration Form

Crowd Participation Toss
So you think you can toss it?

Learn how to turn a caber!
If you are interested in testing your strength and agility at this signature Scottish sporting event,
inquire with the Athletics Director at the Heavyweight Field on the day of the Games.
Competition Fee is $5.00 and a signed Waiver of Liability Form is required.
All competitors must be 18 years of age or above. Kilts are encouraged but not required for Crowd Participation Toss.


Hammer Toss (Throwing of the Smiddy)

The Hammer Toss is a Distance Event where the athlete throws the hammer as far as possible so that it lands within the field boundaries.
The throw is measured for distance, and out of three throws, only the best throw is counted.
The hammer has a spherical metal ball fastened to a wooden handle measuring 50 inches.
The athlete throws the hammer with his back to the throwing area.
With feet firmly planted on the ground, the shaft is gripped by the athlete
and swung around the shoulders as fast as possible in two or three complete turns
before it is released and hurled through the air.

There is a Heavy Hammer and a Light Hammer. Men throw a 22 lb heavy hammer and a 16 lb light hammer.
Women throw a 12 lb heavy hammer and a 9 lb light hammer.
The athlete must throw the hammer without moving his feet, and he cannot cross or touch the top of the trig (toe board).

This Scottish event is the ancestor of the modern day Olympic Hammer.
The Scottish mells, like modern day sledgehammers, were used for pounding in fence posts.
While the men were working in the fields, they would often challenge each other to see who could throw the hammer the farthest.

During the eleventh century, when horses were the main method of transport, the hub of village life was the blacksmith shop.
Recreation centered around the shop, and friendly competition among the villagers often involved tools
used by the smiddy, or blacksmith (smithy).
Tossing the blacksmith's hammer became known as "throwing the smiddy".


Putting the Stone Clachneart (Braemar Put)

The word "clachneart" means "stone of strength". In this Distance Event, the athletes are judged
on the longest of three throws, from the trig (toe board) to the nearest break of ground,
with only the best throw being counted.
The same stone is used to maintain uniformity to compare throws.
The thrower must "put" (derived from the Gaelic word "thrust") the stone from the shoulder using one hand only.
There are two competitions: the Braemar Put (sometimes called the Standing Stone Put) and the Open Put.

The Olympic Shot Put is the direct descendant of the Scottish Braemar Stone Put.
The challenge of the Braemar style is that a smooth, round stone weighing 22 to 26 pounds (12 to 15 lbs for women)
must be thrown from a standing position, keeping one foot stationary against the trig.
Historically, the Braemar Stone Put stems from a common practice by early Highland Chieftains to challenge the throwing arm of a visiting clan's warrior.
Each chieftain's "Stone of Strength" was situated outside the gatepost at the entrance of his castle.
Before entry was granted, each visitor was obliged to test his strength by throwing the stone for distance.

This perhaps was to ensure that the guests would be able to assist in the defense of the castle.
If besieged, the successful stone-putters would be posted on the battlements, hurling large boulders down upon the attackers.

The Open Stone Put was modified from the Braemar style to allow an approach to the trig in hopes of achieving greater distances.
The athlete is allowed a run up to the trig before releasing the stone. The athlete must not go past or step on the trig.
The stone is also lighter than in the Braemar event, weighing between 16 and 20 pounds (10 to 12 lbs for women).

Traditionally, a water-smoothed, large rounded stone is picked out of a local riverbed for each competition.
King Malcolm Ceanmore, who is credited with initiating the first Scottish Highland Games in 1040 AD, chose the original stones from the nearby River Dee.


Distance Weights (28lb & 56lb)

In each of these Distance Events, the athlete has three throws of the weight, and only the best throw is counted.
The weight looks much like a mace, having a ring handle attached to the weight with an 18-inch chain.
The object is to throw the weight horizontally for an optimal distance.

The athlete has a 9-foot approach the trig (toe board) and must throw the weight with one hand.
The most common approach to the throw is a double spin similar to that used by discus throwers.
The Weight For Distance competition includes a Light Weight and a Heavy Weight event.
The men's Light Weight is 28lbs, while the women's is 14lbs.
There are three different Heavy Weight classes: the men's 56lb, men's masters 42lb (for athletes 45+ years old) and the women's 28lb.

During the eleventh century, recreation centered around activities at the blacksmith shop.
The 28lb and 56lb weights were implements found there. The 28lb weight was used to tie up a horse
and the 56lb weight was used to keep a team of horses from wandering.

Weights were also used for measuring farm produce. Standard weights were half-hundredweight (56lb) and two-stone (28lb).


Over-the-Bar Weights (56lb)

The Weight Over The Bar is a Height Event where a metal ball with a ring handle is picked up from the ground with one arm,
swung upward and over the athlete's head, trying to clear a crossbar similar to that used in the pole vault.
The men throw a 56lb weight, masters (athletes 45+ years old) throw a 42lb weight, and women use a 28lb weight.
In order for the throw to be counted, the weight must go over the bar without knocking it down.
The athlete has three attempts to clear each consecutive height of the bar.
The victor is the sole thrower who can clear the highest bar.

This event had its origin in wartime battle tactics, where legend holds it was used to take out enemy archers on castle walls.
The thrower would stand flat against the castle wall and wait until an archer or lookout peered over the wall.
At this point, the thrower would see the enemy's position on the battlement and could hurl a weight upward, over the castle wall,
and conk the enemy on the head.

More probably, however, throwing a weight over the bar was a training method for tossing grappling hooks
over the battlements for scaling tall fortifications.


Sheaf Toss

Using a three-tined pitchfork, the athlete hurls a sheaf (burlap bag filled with hay) over a horizontal bar
raised between two standards, similar to the crossbar used in the pole vault.
The athlete has three attempts to clear each level of the bar.

After all attempts at that level, the bar is raised in 6 inch or 1 foot increments.
The continually rising bar reduces the field as competition continues until all but one athlete is eliminated.
Men use a 16lb or 20lb sheaf and women use a 10lb sheaf.

This height event has its origins in the farm country during harvest time.
To bring the harvest into the barn, the field workers would toss sheaves of wheat or bales of hay into a wagon using pitchforks.
As the bales piled up in the wagon, the workers would have to pitch the bales higher and higher to fill the wagon.
Once the wagon was brought from the field to the barn, the workers would then pitch the bales up to the storage loft on the barn's second floor.

More probably, however, throwing a weight over the bar was a training method for tossing grappling hooks
over the battlements for scaling tall fortifications.


Caber Toss (Turning the Caber)

Sporting contests of strength, agility and speed took place at the conclusion of military musters called "wappinschawes" (weapon-showings).
It was at one of these wappinschawes in 1574 that the "tossing of ye barr" first appeared on record.

The Caber Toss is the highlight of the Heavy Athletic Competition and is an event of accuracy.
It is the only event where the competitor is not striving for distance or height.
It is a show of strength, timing, balance and momentum.
The caber is a large tapered pole or tree that has one end wider than the other.
It can vary from 15 to 23 feet long, weighing between 70 and 150 lbs.
The caber is stood on its narrow end in front of the thrower, who has to pick the caber up without help.
The "pick" begins with the thrower squatting next to the caber, then hoisting the caber up to cup the end
in his interlocked hands with the caber leaning against his shoulder.

At this point, the thrower may weave around a bit, balancing the caber and establishing control.
After a short run to gain forward momentum, he will plant his feet and attempt to "turn" the caber by flipping it end over end.
The large end of the caber hits the ground first and the small end flips over the top, with the caber falling away from the thrower.

The Caber is scored on a clock face. Imagine that the thrower is standing on the 6:00 mark.
The caber must break the vertical plane between 9:00 and 3:00.
The judge will score the caber based on where it hits the ground in direct relation to the thrower's shoulders.
A perfect execution is called a twelve-o'clock turn, where the caber falls straight away from where the thrower released it, or 12:00 on the clock face.
In the event that no one is able to turn the caber, the judge calls the degree of elevation the caber reaches (0-90) before falling back.

The history of the caber is elusive. The term 'caber' derives from the Gaelic word "cabar" or "kaber" which refers to a rafter or beam.
The most prominent legend surrounding the origin of the caber toss is that of breaching barriers or crossing streams during wartime.
In the Scottish highlands, you often have freezing-cold streams that you need to cross.
During battle, the caber was tossed from one side of the stream to the other to quickly make a bridge,
allowing fellow Scotsmen to cross and continue on to chase rival clans.
This is why the caber is tossed for accuracy, rather than distance.

A different tale has the origin of the caber toss in the Scottish Highlands where forest was cleared to make fields.
After the loggers cut down the trees, floaters (whose task it was to float the felled logs down the river)
would pitch the logs into the river, allowing the current to carry them downstream.
The ability to toss the logs well into the river became an essential skill for the logging operation to avoid log jams.

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at Lime Rock Park
60 White Hollow Road, Lakeville CT 06039


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