A new caber is to be unveiled to mark the 150th anniversary of a North-east Highland games.
Athletes competing in the open events at this summer’s Aboyne Highland Games will have the chance to get to grips with the new 23ft 6in (7.1m) caber.
Arguably the most iconic discipline of any Highland games, tossing the caber requires competitors to possess not just strength but good balance. Weighing approximately 130lb (59kg), the winner of the open event will be given an opportunity to toss the new anniversary caber end over end.
If the caber lands perfectly in the 12 o’clock position in August they will be rewarded with a £500 prize.
Alistair Grant, chairman of Aboyne Highland Games, said: “Our 150th anniversary is set to be a special day and is being marked in a number of ways.
“A book containing old pictures and the public’s memories of the games is being created, an anniversary whisky is being bottled and pole-vaulting is making a return to the programme. The new caber will be a splendid and lasting addition to our games equipment.”
Founded in 1867, Aboyne Highland Games attracts up to 10,000 visitors every year.
Held on the town’s green, it is among the highlights of the Royal Deeside summer events calendar.
Organisers of Aboyne Highland Games decided to commission the new caber because the event has been a fixture of the programme since the games’ inception.
Timber for the commemorative caber was donated by Dinnet Estates and came from a 50-year-old Douglas Fir that stood in woodland at Rhu-na-Haven Road, in Aboyne.
The 70ft tree was felled in January. Since then, the timber has undergone a number of processes that will see it transformed from tree trunk to its current slender form.
The work was done by Murray Brown, convener of the heavy events at Aboyne Highland Games.
Murray, who himself competed in the heavy events at past games during the 1970s and 1980s, has made a number of cabers in recent years.
During the past five months Murray and a team of volunteers have spent about 50 hours crafting it.
He said: “Many visitors are unaware of the work that is involved in creating a caber.
“Some think we merely cut down a tree, strip the trunk of its bark and put it to use on the games field.
“However, it would still be full of sap which would make it too heavy and its girth at both ends too broad to be held by the majority of competitors.
“The new anniversary caber is a beautiful piece of timber.
“The wood is very straight and has few blemishes, which has made working with it over the last few months much easier.
“I look forward to seeing competitors throwing it on games day.”
Aboyne Highland Games has a tradition of creating cabers that challenge the strength and skill of its competitors.
In 1961, the games sent new cabers to Australia following a request from the Highland Society of New South Wales.
However, it proved too tough a challenge for Australian heavy athletes.
It was reported in the Canberra Times of October, 21, 1965 that “nobody could toss it”, so it was subsequently replaced.
Marcus Humphrey, whose family owns Dinnet Estate, was inspired to donate wood for the anniversary caber after recalling that he was at the quayside in 1961 when the cabers arrived Down Under.
He said: “I got the idea when I remembered that Aboyne gave two cabers to the Highland Society of New South Wales in 1961.
“The society was keen to obtain a caber from a Scottish forest.
“By chance I was in Sydneyand witnessed the cabers being unloaded from the harbour.”