Shinty is a sport more specific to Scotland where it was previously played across all the region, but today features mostly in the Scottish Highlands. It was even played in parts of northern England and in nations around the world where Scottish Highlanders migrated to. The game is played with a stick known as a caman, which is made of wood. On occasions the sport is often compared to field hockey, however, there are several differences. For example, the ball may be played using both sides of the caman. The ball may be played in the air, while the caman may be used to block or tackle. A player may not fall on an opponent’s caman, but tackling a player is allowed. This can only be by means of a shoulder-to-shoulder movement. The sport is derived from Irish Hurling, English Bandy and Welsh Bando, but with its own unique rules and playing features. The governing bodies of hurling and shinty have adopted modified rules for regular internationals to be played between Ireland and Scotland.
The history of shinty can be attributed to the same origins of hurling, which has evidence of its existence as far back as 2,000 years ago. A similar game called cammag is played on the Isle of Man, but it is more the old form of hurling (commons) played in the northern half of Ireland that is the closest resemblance to shinty. The origin of the name is much more uncertain. In addition, the game was often referred to by a different name depending on the glen it was played in. Shinty is traditionally played on grass, but since 2009 permission was given for artificial turf to be used. Pitches are normally up to 155m by 73m, with a goal area at either end. The objective is to play a small ball into the goal, or ‘hail’, as it is also known by. The ball is hard and solid resembling a baseball with more pronounced stitching. It is about half the size of a tennis ball. Unlike the Irish camán, the Scottish caman has no blade. It is traditionally made of ash wood, but hickory is more commonly used today. The caman may not have metal pieces attached to it and it can be made according to the player’s height. A team is made up of 12 players (men) or 10 players (women), with a match consisting of two halves of 45 minutes each.
The Camanachd Association, established in October 1893, is the governing body for the sport of shinty and is based in Inverness, Scotland.