The Ballater Highland Games were first held on 27th July 1864 on the Church Green at Ballater. In 1889 the site of the Games was moved to the delightful Monaltrie Park below Craigendarroch hill.
Tradition is a strong feature of the Games and a brief history of the Games is given below together with an extract from the records of the first meeting of the Ballater Highland Games Committee. The history was compiled by Eddie Anderson
Ballater Highland Games were instituted in 1864, the first Gathering being held on Wednesday, 27th July, at 12 noon on the Church Square, where the following Games were competed for, Putting the Stone, Throwing the Hammer, Tossing the Caber, Dancing, Running, Vaulting, Jumping, Sack and Barrow races.
The overall Champion for the day was A. Grant, Birkhall, who gained firsts in 8 events including a first equal in Dancing Highland Reels. His other results were:
Stone, 31 ft. 6 in.; Light Stone, 36 ft.; Heavy Hammer, 62 ft. 2 in.;
A crowd of around 700 was in attendance. The total income for the Games of 1864 was £18 9s 6d and expenditure of £17 7s 6d left a balance of £1 2s. The total prize money was £12 5s.
From these early days Ballater has always attracted the finest of Athletes, Pipers and Dancers. The famous Donald Dinnie of Aboyne first appeared in 1868 when he set new records for the Heavy Events, throwing the Heavy Hammer a distance of 90 ft. 2 in and Heavy Stone 38 ft. These were two results from his seven first placings. Little wonder he was judged the most successful athlete that year.
Other great names who attended the Games included George Davidson, Kincardine O'Neil; A. Grant, Aboyne; Alick Finnic, of Braemar; Alexander Macintosh, of Lawsie, Crathie, and later Robert Shaw of Glengairn, who was Scotland's champion shot-putter.
The original granite putting stones, oval in shape and difficult to hold, were taken from the River Dee nearby the Invercauld Arms Hotel (Monaltrie Hotel).
famous Balmoral pipers, the late Pipe Majors McGregor, Nicol and Brown
The site of the Games was changed to Monaltrie Park in 1889. a splendid Highland setting between the hills of Craigendarroch and Craig Coillich. Our famous Hill Race was introduced in 1946. It is a gruelling run to the summit of Craig Coillich. The runners can be clearly seen from the Games Field as they reach the top. Perhaps this year we shall see the record time of 16 minutes. 59 seconds being broken.
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