Scottish Highland dancing is one of the oldest forms of folk dance, and both modern ballet and square dancing can trace their roots back to the Highlands. Dating back to the 11th or 12th century, the Highland Dances of Scotland tended to be highly athletic male celebratory dances of triumph or joy, or warrior dances performed over swords and spiked shields.
According to tradition, the old kings and chiefs of Scotland used the Highland Games as a way of choosing the best men for their retinue and men at arms.
Highland dancing was one of the various ways men were tested for strength, stamina, accuracy, and agility. Ladies began competing only at the turn of the century. Although historically
Highland dancing was restricted to men, today it is mostly performed by females. No matter who dances them, Highland dances require both athletic and artistic skill.