Only the strong: Highland Games
in Warrior dreams
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This chapter outlines the history of Scottish Highland Games and their international spread. It presents the Highland Games of Europe and identifies the major themes which characterise them. It is certainly true that the strength competitions were common in Scotland (as elsewhere in Europe) long before the nineteenth century. In 2010 at least 130 Highland Games took place on the European mainland, the majority of them in Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France. Many Europeans set up Highland Games without deep convictions about Scotland or their own relationship to Scottish tradition. The chapter shows how, in certain areas of Europe, the Games serve both as ersatz folklore and as an enhancement of existing custom. The commercialisation of Highland Games is an issue of some concern for many European Scots, mainly because they consider commercial mass production and Scottishness to be mutually exclusive.

Warrior dreams

Playing Scotsmen in mainland Europe

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