The grounds of a historic Aberdeenshire castle burst into life with the skirl of bagpipes and roar of Highland heavies at the weekend.
A record 2,500 people showed up for the 39th Drumtochty Highland Games on Saturday and enjoyed a colourful display of Scottish culture which included Highland dancing, caber tossing and piping competitions.
A breakthrough of sunshine also contributed to what organisers labelled “one of the best ever” years in the history of the event.
Visitors from as far afield as New Zealand, Australia and the US flocked to the games, which took place at Drumtochty Castle estate near Auchenblae.
The gathering was an extra special one for three local woman – named this year’s “Drumtochty chieftains” – who got the games underway at 11am.
Jenny Thomson, Alice Morgan and Geena Easter were named the honorary heads of the games in honour of their retirement from the Auchenblae Community Association (ACA) after 75 years of combined service.
And it marked the end of an era for another faithful servant – broadcasting legend and Press and Journal columnist Robbie Shepherd, who commented on the first games in 1977 and has handed over the microphone to Robert Lovie.
Some of the biggest names in the Highland games scene turned up for the heavy competitions – including reigning Glenfiddich champion Craig Sinclair, of Drumoak, who came second in both the 16lb and 22lb hammer event.
Elsewhere there was Highland dancing, tug o’war and music from the Lonach, Newtonhill and Mearns pipe bands.
James Espie of Dinnet was crowned champion of the gruelling Finella hill race, followed closely by Peter Henry and Stephanie Provan of Aboyne.
Jim Brown of the Drumtochty Games organising committee helped set up the first event in 1977.
Last night he said: “It was a brilliant day, one of the best ever and there was just glorious, glorious sunshine. It was just one of the best ever weather-wise and in terms of competitors and everything.
“It was really needed after last year when we had a very wet year.
“The stalls were pretty popular too, I went around at the end of the day and everyone was happy. It was a real, traditional event.”
Mr Brown said people had converged on the gathering from all around the world – for all kinds of reasons.
“There was a Frenchman who won the overseas race, an Australian lady won the ladies overseas race and there was a stag party from France who had decided Drumtochty was where they were coming to,” he added.