New York

From Robert the Bruce to Copylab: 708 Years of the Ceres Highland Games

Rory Ballantyne 5 July 2022

Last weekend, we had the privilege of reconnecting with Copylab’s Scottish roots by supporting the 56lb Weight Over The Bar event at the Ceres Highland Games.

Scotland is famous for its historical towns and cities. But hidden between the towns and cities are equally historical villages. Ceres, in central Fife, is one of these villages. At the centre of Ceres, standing above the Bow Butts (a green space, which was once a practice range for archers), is a monument to the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn. Ceres, which currently has a population of around 950 people, played a vital role in this battle, where the army of Robert the Bruce claimed victory over the army of King Edward II in the first war of Scottish Independence. In celebration of the return of Ceres’ men from Bannockburn, it’s said that Robert the Bruce himself offered the village the opportunity to host its own games. Since 1314, and almost without interruption except for periods of war and Covid-19, the Ceres games have been held on the Bow Butts. Funded by donations, sponsorships and trader stalls, Ceres Highland Games are believed to be the oldest free games in Scotland.

content strategy consultant

“For this is June’s great gala-day!

When men rin wud and youngsters play-

The day that marks the grand return

Of Ceres men frae Bannockburn!”

I spent most of my formative years in Ceres and have fond memories of June’s highland games. I remember itching to head to the funfair when it arrived in the lead-up to the games – hearing screams and music piercing through the usually sleepy village, we could tell it was open from our back garden. On games day, the last Saturday in June, Ceres comes alive; the main road through the village is closed and thousands of people head to the Bow Butts to watch the games, spend money at the markets and enjoy the funfair. Despite the size of the village, the games usually draw a massive crowd, including Gordon Ramsay, Gino D’Acampo and Fred Sirieix, who once swung by to film a section of their Gordon, Gino and Fred’s Road Trip show (I met them – Gordon was, surprisingly, a total gent). The people of Ceres take a lot of pride in their games, and rightly so – they’re a great day out.

content strategy consultant

The last few years have been quieter, though. Covid-19 and the lockdown restrictions forced the postponement of the games in 2020 and 2021. The virus put the games in an awkward spot – most of the donations came at the games themselves, and many of the trader stalls ceased to exist because of financial difficulties. But this year, the games, funfair and traders returned. On 25 June, the 708th Ceres Highland games opened with a massive turnout. All the usual events were back, with some new ones too, and Ceres was the busiest I’ve seen it for years. Hopefully, next year will be just as much of a success.

Among this year’s events was the 56lb Weight Over the Bar, which was sponsored by Copylab! One of the heavies (the name given to the heavy athletics contestants) was millimetres away from a new world record in this event. The atmosphere was one of happiness and relief that the games were back; it couldn’t have been a better day, and Copylab’s name was up there with the many other sponsors who help make the annual event happen.

After a day of exhilarating events, fairground treats and the typical Scottish downpour, which left spectators and contestants drenched, the 2022 Ceres Highland Games came to an end. We cleared up the Bow Butts, said our goodbyes and walked home with high hopes for next year.