Many of us are spending this extra long weekend enjoying the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. But it’s not the only milestone being celebrated, as the Cotswold Olimpick Games reaches its 410th anniversary.
This quirky sporting event is returning to Dover’s Hill near Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire for an evening of traditional, rural games. For just a few hours on Friday 3rd June, this lovely piece of Cotswold countryside becomes a competitive arena where contestants vie to become the King of the Hill.
This event is also known as Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games; named after the man who first founded the game back in the 1600s. Dover was an attorney and author, and presided over the event for forty years. He believed that exercise was necessary for the defence of the Kingdom, so it’s possible that the games were introduced to ensure everyone was fighting fit. Or perhaps as a way to bring rich and poor together, increasing social harmony.
Quirky sporting challenges
Once upon a time, there would have been events such as sword fighting to compete in. But thankfully, today’s games are a bit more laidback. Although many ancient games and challenges are still on the agenda. And to win King of the Hill, competitors must take part in four arena events. They’ll need to excel at the Static Jump. That’s jumping as far as you can from the spot, so no run up to help you! Then take on Spurning the Barre. That one’s a bit like Tossing the Caber in Scotland’s Highland games. And then have a go at the more familiar games of the Hammer Throw, and Putting the Shot.
That’s not the only multi-discipline event you can have a go at though. The Cotswold Olimpick Games has a more modern take on rural sports with the Championship of the Hill. This popular team event is a bit different each year, but it usually features quirky relays involving wheelbarrows, dustbins, hay bales and water. So, it’s a real crowd-pleaser.
Shin kicking and tug o’ war
But perhaps the most popular and well-known of these alternative games is the Shin Kicking. This event has been taking place since 1612 and is pretty much as it sounds! Competitors cushion their shins with straw and wear white coats, which represent the shepherd’s smock in a nod to the past. Plucky challengers must compete in bouts until a winner emerges.
Another of the more traditional games is the Tug O’ War. This sees teams of eight competing against one another in a show of strength. And finally, there are cross country running races, for those who like a more straightforward sporting challenge.
The games are, quite aptly, held on Dover’s Hill, where there is a monument to the man himself. This year’s event will begin at 4pm when the gates open and an opening ceremony welcomes everyone. The games kick-off at 6.30pm, followed by an awards ceremony, torch procession and a host of food, music and fundraising fun.
Discover more of the UK’s quirky sporting events here!
When: 3rd June 2022, gates open at 4pm
Where: Dover’s Hill, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire
£: Tickets cost £7 for adults and £3 for children
More info: www.olimpickgames.co.uk