Highland dancing was traditionally a way of highlanders keeping warm, training their feet to be nimble, recreation and entertaining the chieftain. Today’s highland dances are based on these traditional dances and are said to be some of the most complex folk dances in the world.

Dances in our competition include:

Highland Fling

This is probably the most recognisable dance, characterised by the raised arms. The fling is said to have originated from a shepherd’s imitation of a courting stag on a Scottish hillside – the raised arms correspond to the stag’s antlers. The fling is performed on the one spot, with no travelling.

Sword Dance

Dancing over swords dates back to King Malcolm Canmore in 1054. After defeating his enemy, he crossed his own sword over his enemy’s and danced over them. It then became a ritual before battle in which clansmen would dance over a pair of swords as close to the blades as possible in order to show daring. In the modern dance, if a dancer should touch the blades, they will be disqualified from the competition.

Sean Triubhas

Following the Jacobite rebellion of 1754, the bagpipes and the kilt were banned and highland dancing had to be done in trousers, or “trews”. “Sean triubhas” means “old trousers” and the shaking movements in the dance represent the shaking off of the detested trews. Sean triubhas begins with a slow tempo (symbolising the sadness of the banning of the kilt) and increases in tempo in the last two steps (symbolising joy when kilts were again allowed to be worn).

Hullachan Reel

The Hullachan Reel (also known as the Reel o’ Tulloch) is danced in fours, although each dancer is judged individually. It originates from the village of Tulloch where the minister was late for church one Sunday and the congregation began dancing a reel to keep warm.

It is impossible to watch them for long without realising the level of dedication devoted by both the young athletes and their mothers!


Operated under the Rules of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing.


2018 Highland Dancing contest results will be website published on the 27 May.  Updates will be available on the day via our social media presence at and


The Dancing Entry Form provides further information on the 2018 contest and how to enter.

If further assistance is required please contact the games.