I know that the current Highland Games at Callander date back no further than 25 years or so, but I'm enquiring whether there were historically far earlier games held there, particularly during the mid-19th century? I have attached some scans of an old albumen photograph which, judging from the paper and materials, and the costume of the people shown in it, would appear to date from around 1860 to '70.
I know little about its provenance, other than that on the back is written in pencil: "A. Donaldson, Callander, by Stirling", just possibly the name of the photographer, or perhaps someone who ordered the photograph and was a bystander at the occasion. Looking at it closely, there is a blur of activity on a raised stage, for the most part caused by the exposure being so long - perhaps two to three seconds or more. Only one figure stands relatively still, and there appears perhaps to be a performance of highland dancing. There is a grandstand behind, decorated with flags and greenery, and the local gentry sit out in the front row to watch the proceedings. Tents and stalls are scattered about, and there must be several hundred people in the picture.
I am wondering whether anyone locally might recognize this occasion from similar pictures taken at the time, or the location in which it might have been held - possibly the park or grounds of a big house. If you happen to know of anyone who is knowledgeable about similar local events and has a particular interest in them, I would be delighted too hear from them.
If you do recognise the scene (or, indeed, the photo itself) or have ideas about who A Donaldson' do get in touch; you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below this blog entry.
More generally, when did Highland Games start in Callander? I have heard, recently, of some on Perthshire around 1820 (very early). My first thought on how to check further would be through the columns of the local press. But other thoughts would be very welcome - as would all offers of help.