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Inaugurated 1864
Member of the S.H.G.A.

A Short History

Birnam Highland Games were first held in 1864. Prior to this, Highland Games were held in Dunkeld but because of the death of the 6th Duke of Atholl in that year it was decided to cancel the 1864 Games. Records show that a group of gentlemen decided to hold inaugural Games in Birnam and these proved so successful they became an annual event. Dunkeld Games finally ended in 1872.

One of the first posters for the Games

"One of the first posters for the Games" (click to enlarge)

It is a popular belief that the first meetings of the Games Committee were held at the Birnam Oak, the last survivor of Macbeth's Birnam Wood, although no written record can be found of this. The first records of meetings in the minute books give the meeting place from about 1870 as the Station Rooms at Birnam Station. After the Birnam Institute was built meetings were held there.

Initially the Games were held in Birnam House Park, now known as Jubilee Park. They then moved to the southern end of Birnam Terrace walk, being interrupted by two World Wars when the field was under cultivation. When a sewage plant was built there, the Games moved to the then Recreation Ground in 1959. Construction of the new A9 bisected the old Park and the present site was formed to replace it. No games were held in 1975 to allow the new grass to grow properly. Games resumed in the new field in 1976.

The park where the games are now held

"The park where the games are now held"

The Games are now held on the last Saturday in August and are run under S.G.A. Rules. Highland Dancing, Piping, Cycling, Track and Heavyweight events are the mainstay of the programme attracting some of the most notable competitors on the Games circuit.

Prizes totalling over £3,000 and Trophies are awarded on the day. The Games relies on an energetic Committee many of whom are long serving members of 20, 30, and even 40 years standing. Young volunteers are always welcome. The Games have a strong support locally with over 100 Patrons from the local community and businesses. Without this support the Games would not be the success they are today.

Our present Chieftain Mr. Thomas Steuart Fothringham of Murthly Castle is the fourth member of his family to hold the position. His great grandfather, Col W. Steuart Fothringham was Chieftain for 45 years and his great uncle, Mr. Donald Steuart Fothringham for 47 years. His father, Robert Steuart Fothringham took over in 1984 and served up to 2008 after which Mr. Thomas took over.


Further Reading

We also have a more complete history of the Birnam Highland Games online. Click here to view it.