5. Shin-kicking and the Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks

Shin-kicking is the showpiece event at the Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks. Picture by Betty Stocker.
A contestant "spurning the barre" at the Cotswold Olimpicks. Picture courtesy Cotswolds Conservation Board.Shin-kicking is a combat sport that involves two contestants attempting to kick each other on the shin to force their opponent to the ground.

It's arguably the biggest attraction at the Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks, held annually in the early summer at Dover's Hill, just outside Chipping Campden, which draws thousands of spectators.

Shin-kicking originated in England in the early 17th Century and has been described as an English martial art.Chipping Campden's Catholic priest Father John Brennan plays the part of Robert Dover at the Cotswold Olimpicks. It was included in the 1951 revival of the Cotswold Olimpicks, which now features the World Shin-kicking Championships.

The matches are observed by a referee, or stickler, who determines the match score in a best of three competition. Steel toe caps are now banned, and the use of straw is allowed to pad shins.

The Cotswold Olimpicks, held on the Friday after Spring Bank Holiday, celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2012 - a few months before the London Olympics - and the event drew international media attention.

Apart from shin-kicking, Cotswold Olimpick events include 'spurning the barre' (an old English version of the Scottish tossing the caber) and tug o' war.

The evening culminates with a spectacular torchlit procession down into Chipping Campden where there is music and dancing in the Square.

More information

The 2017 Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks has been cancelled but it is hoped the games will return in 2018.
For more details, visit the website at www.olimpickgames.com

© Loving The Cotswolds. 2021.