Overseas visitors set sights on Ceres

Crowds enjoying last year's event
Crowds enjoying last year's event

Ceres Games takes on a special significance this year as villagers prepare to celebrate the 700th anniversary of how it all began.

The charter to hold the Games was given to the people of the village by Robert Bruce himself, in celebration of the victorious return to Ceres of the men who fought at Bannockburn.

It’s said that before going into battle the men were taught to use the bow on the village green, now known as Bow Butts - and with the exception of the war years, the games have been held in the same place in some form or another every year since.

Originally the event was held on the battle’s actual anniversary, June 24, but now it takes place on the last Saturday in June.

And in a year when the world’s eyes are on Scotland, the 2014 event - which takes place on June 28 - is expected to attract even more international visitors than usual.

Among them will be a party from the Central Florida Highland Games, based in Winter Springs, Florida, with whom the Ceres Games committee have struck up a friendship, as well as the Scottish Society of Windsor Pipe Band from Ontario, Canada, who’ll perform alongside the St Andrews Pipe Band.

To mark the anniversary, Ceres Games committee have joined forces with Lennox Harrower, ‘mine host’ of the Ceres Inn, to commission a special commemorative whisky.

A 10-year-old single Speyside malt, it’s been specially labelled to include a statue of Robert the Bruce along with the verse:

‘For this is June’s great gala day

When men rin wud and youngsters play

The day that marks the glad return

Of Ceres men frae Bannockburn’

In addition, visitors to next Saturday’s event will be able to sample a special anniversary beer brewed for the occasion by the Eden Brewery.

“We have resisted the temptation to introduce gimmicks for the 700th anniversary games,” said president Brian Henry.

“Ceres Games is the oldest free games in Scotland and we will be following the same successful formula, so it will be the same as always only more so!

“We are starting an hour earlier this year, at 11am, to accommodate the extra visitors we’re expecting and there will be road closures in place to help avoid congestion.

“Our advice to anyone planning to attend is to get here early.”

Following the official opening of the Games by this year’s chieftain, the Rev. Jim Campbell, action on the field promises to be as exciting as ever, with all the traditional events taking place in a friendly atmosphere.

They include Highland dancing, running, cycling, wrestling, tug-of-war, piping and the ever-popular heavyweight competions such as tossing the caber, shot putt and the sheaf pitch.

And should any overseas visitors be stumped by events such as ‘De’l tak the hindmost’ or ‘Ceres stane’, members of the committee will be on hand to translate!

For a full programme on the day’s activities, visit www.ceresgames.co.uk