Highlands & Islands

Oldest shinty trophy found on farm in Sutherland

Oldest shinty trophy
Image caption The trophy was presented following a match played 184 year's ago

The world's oldest shinty trophy has turned up on a farm in Sutherland.

The decorated ram's horn was made to mark a match played on Sutherland's Loth Beach in 1829.

Its whereabouts had been a mystery to those involved in the sport for almost 90 years - until artist Anthony Schrag came across it at Craikaig Farm while researching Loth Beach matches.

The 184-year-old trophy will be displayed when a shinty match is re-enacted on Saturday at Loth Beach.

In the 1829 game, a team of young men from the parish of Clyne took on a team of men selected from the parishes of Golspie, Rogart, Dornoch and Creich.

The match - which was hosted by Major William Clunes, a landowner involved in the Highland Clearances - ended in a draw.

An inscription on the trophy reads: "From the young men of the parish of Clyne to Major Clunes.

"As a memento of their gratitude for the countenance and encouragement which he, as the only individual supporter from another parish, afforded twenty of their number while engaged in a Shinny Match against an equal number selected from the parishes of Golspie, Rogart, Dornoch and Creich, and which ended in a drawn game, 12th January, 1829."

Shinny is thought to be the oldest form of the name for the game. The word is still used in Canada and north Minnesota for an informal game of ice hockey played on a frozen pond.

Schrag, artist-in-residence at Timespan Museum and Art Gallery in Helmsdale, Sutherland, came across the ram's horn trophy while researching shinty played at Loth Beach.

He spotted the prize during a visit to Maj Clunes' former home, Craikaig Farm.

The owner of the farm today, Mary Dudgeon, agreed to the trophy being displayed at Saturday's recreation of a traditional shinty game at Loth Beach.

Schrag, who photographed the trophy and alerted the Camanachd Association, said the earliest record of shinty being played at the beach was 1824.

Shinty historian Hugh Dan MacLennan said the Loth Beach trophy was lost for years before it turned up in a shop in 1922.

Image caption A traditional beach shinty game is still played by pupils in north Sutherland

The prize was bought and returned to the area where the match was played.

Mr MacLennan said the trophy had been kept at Craikaig Farm for a long time, but had basically been forgotten about.

The trophy will also be displayed at an event at Timespan Museum on 22 March, and at a community shinty match in Helmsdale the following day.

School pupils already continue a tradition, which dates back to before World War I, of playing shinty on a beach at Farr in north Sutherland.

The match was traditionally held to celebrate a new year.

It could involve up to 100 men, but died out after the end of the war.

Pupils and staff at Farr High School revived the event eight years ago and play it every year on the last school day before the Christmas holidays.

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