11 min read

North Rona's lifting stones

Alexander MacLeod's shipwreck leads to a stone, Tommy Tiernan gets engrossed in Irish stonelifting, and a preview of the Arnold Strongman Classic 2024!

Now that we're comfortably into 2024, things have started picking up in the stonelifting world. And the first big strongman competition of the year kicks off in a few days, along with some natural stone events!

Before that, the first liftingstones.org article of 2024 is here! In his debut guest article, Jacob Hetherington will take you to a tiny Scottish island in search of some treasure with North Rona: Shipwrecked.

Here's your list of topics, feel free to jump around to the ones that interest you most!

  • North Rona: Shipwrecked
  • David Keohan on the Tommy Tiernan Show
  • Arnold Strongman Classic preview
    • Men
    • Women
    • Rogue Record Breakers
  • The Gathering 2024 GoFundMe
  • liftingstones.org's anniversary

North Rona: Shipwrecked

An old map of North Rona from 1889

You may have heard me say this before – liftingstones.org as a project was born from my desire to create something that I wanted for myself. I wanted a map of lifting stones to explore, and I wanted to read their stories, too. Of course, that desire extends to guest articles.

Jacob Hetherington's debut guest article is a perfect example of what I want to read as a stonelifter – it's a well-researched piece with a gripping narrative exploring the history of a place very few have ever visited.

I'll let Jacob tell you all about it:

There's a big map of Scotland that hangs in my gym with coloured dots stuck all over it. I've slowly updated it over the years as I lift Scotland's lifting stones. Green dots represent stones I've lifted, while red dots represent stones that have references, but haven't yet been found.
Every now and then, if I've got some spare time, I'll fire up Google and try and find more information about the stones under the red dots on my map. Peter Martin's work mentions a stone on North Rona, so a red dot has been there since the map's inception.
There's always just been something about that little red dot way out up there. I knew nothing about the island. It'd be a rare person to not know of Shetland, Orkney, or the Outer Hebrides (all with their own little collection of dots). But North Rona? Where? Who even? The idea seemed so fantastical!
So when I finally sat down and looked at North Rona sometime last autumn, the questions kept coming. Each extra bit of information I found created as many questions as it answered: People lived there? Who? The stone relates to a shipwreck? How did he get home? It just seemed to be a story of never-ending twists and turns.
Not only did it fascinate me, but I got the feeling it'd fascinate others, too, and that's what led me to want to write more than an Instagram post. So, we will be travelling to what is possibly the most remote part of the United Kingdom to an island whose history is beset in tragedy.
Whilst I am no historian, I will try my best to give you an account of the people of Rona – from the early settlers to the tenant farmers of Ness. Our first character, Alexander MacLeod, has an eponymous stone on Rona – although I’m not sure he ever intended to set foot on the island!
I hope you enjoy what follows. If you are a seasoned stone lifter, I hope you learn something new (or fancy joining me on an adventure sometime). And if you’re reading this because you wonder what on earth I get from spending my time scarring my arms, then I hope you understand at least a little of the craziness!
North Rona: Shipwrecked — liftingstones.org
Alexander MacLeod left a lifting stone on Scotland’s remote island of North Rona after wrecking his ship. Does his stone still exist?

If you enjoy Jacob's first guest article, follow him on Instagram.

David Keohan on The Tommy Tiernan Show

A couple of weeks ago, David Keohan appeared on Irish national TV on The Tommy Tiernan Show as the final of three guests.

Two men sit on chairs facing each other in a TV studio for an interview. The interviewer is intrigued by the guest.
Tommy Tiernan (left) intrigued with David Keohan's (right) story.

For those that don't know (like me not long ago), The Tommy Tiernan Show is an Irish talk show with the premise that the host – comedian Tommy Tiernan – has no idea who the guests will be until they walk out onto the stage.

Tommy has no pre-prepared questions, which makes for a genuine interview with real curiosity. Watching David's interview, the conversation gripped not only Tommy but the whole of Ireland.

As a result, thousands of curious readers visited liftingstones.org, and many sent me emails with information to share with David (if you're a first-time reader because of David's interview, welcome!).

As always, David's passion for Irish stones is infectious. He shows off the wonderful Irish lifting stone map created by illustrator John Rooney, and he goes on to recount Liam O'Flaherty's story of lifting the stone in Inishmore:

Liam O'Flaherty wrote a beautiful piece on [lifting the stone] in the story. He said he stands up, he blows out, he scrapes the ground with his feet — so there’s no loose rocks underneath. He spits on his palms to get extra grip. And then he bends forward with a straight back and leans over the stone. He grips the handles; breathe out, inhale – brace the body, and then push the ground away with your legs.

David closes his description of lifting historic stones by saying:

It's just the most incredible feeling. You're touching history.

Which is a feeling many stonelifters relate to – that feeling of connection to the stone and its past.

You can watch The Tommy Tiernan Show on the RTÉ Player (country dependent). David's interview starts around 34:30 (Season 8, Episode 7). You can find David Keohan on Instagram.

RTÉ Player
Watch all your favourite TV shows Live or On Demand on your PC, smartphone or tablet for free.

Arnold Strongman Classic Preview

In just a few hours, the Arnold Sports Festival kicks off in Columbus, Ohio! And that means the first huge strongman competition of the year is here. It really feels like the strongman season truly begins with the Arnold Strongman Classic! So, let's take a look.


On the men's side, we have perhaps the strongest lineup ever in a strongman competition. Five of the competitors are World's Strongest Man winners (almost half of the field), and three of those have won the Arnold Strongman Classic! The return of Hafþór Björnsson and Martins Licis will absolutely shake things up if they're in shape.

That's not even taking into account events. We're finally seeing the Apollon's Wheels (Axle press) back in the competition, which I'm very excited about. But this newsletter isn't about strongman – it's about stonelifting, so let's focus on that.

Replica Dinnie Stone Carry

Kevin Faires holds two heavy stones in his hands, side-by-side, on the platform of the Rogue Record Breakers in 2023.
Kevin Faires carries the Replica Dinnie Stones at the Rogue Record Breakers in 2023. Image: Rogue Fitness

This year, for the first time ever at the Arnold Strongman Classic, the Replica Dinnie Stones are part of the main event in the Men's Stone Carry on Saturday!

Reading the discourse online, some people aren't super excited by the stone carry – partly because there's already a frame carry in the competition and because stone carries have become a more frequent event over the last few years.

I, for one, am incredibly excited about the Replica Dinnie Stones. We'll finally see the biggest names in strongman trying their hands at the event. Can anyone beat Kevin Faires' current record of 31 feet 7 inches (9.6m)? Someone like Martins has the grip endurance and patience to take the win. Mitch Hooper has had good results on similar events, and you can never count out Thor on anything when he's in shape.

What makes me most excited is that I believe the Replica Dinnie Stone carry is the hardest event to predict; it's the event we're most likely to see athletes making mistakes. And in a competition with this line-up, a small mistake may cost an athlete multiple positions in the final standings.

Men's Stone Medley

Martins Licis has a huge stone balanced on his right shoulder with his left hand held out to the side to show his control.
Martins Licis shoulders Odd Haugen's Tombstone at the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic. Image: Rogue Fitness

Later the same day, the men will tackle the Stone Medley. We saw a similar event in the Trial by Stone a few years back. But this year, the Stone Medley consists of a 136kg (300 lb) stone press, a 166kg (365 lb) stone-over-bar, and a stone-to-shoulder for reps with Odd Haugen's 186kg (410 lb) Tombstone!

Last time we saw the Tombstone, only three athletes managed to shoulder it – Martins, Oleksi, and Bobby. And that wasn't after a press and a stone-over-bar. With all the accumulated fatigue of the previous events, the organizers have given the athletes a brutal final test. Despite having some of the greatest stonelifters in the world, it may prove too much for a number of men in the field.

Athletes get 150 seconds to go all-out in this final event. Depending on the standings leading into it, we might see something special – athletes pushing themselves to the limits, mentally and physically, to become the Arnold Strongman Classic Champion!


On the women's side, the 12-person lineup is as impressive, with four World's Strongest Woman winners in the field. Last year's surprise runner-up at the Arnold Classic, and current World's Strongest Woman, Rebecca Roberts, returns too!

Like last year, the women's events are almost identical to the men's, with one exception this time: the press. The women will take on the monster dumbbell instead of the axle.

The Jeck Stone Carry

Named after Steve Jeck – the man who authored Of Stones and Strength – the athletes will be wrestling with these 100kg (220 lb) and 94kg (207 lb) stones to hit the farthest distance possible, Dinnie Stone carry style!

This is the first time we've seen a stone carry like this in a major women's competition, so it's incredibly hard to predict how they'll do. It's another case where I think a single mistake will cost someone a lot of points. I'm super excited to see this!

Women's Stone Medley

Again, the final event is a brutal one. Three stones, 150 seconds.

The women's stone medley consists of a 72kg (159 lb) stone press, a 100kg (220 lb) stone-over-bar, and finally, a 113kg (249 lb) stone-to-shoulder for reps.

I believe this is also the first time we've seen a stone medley like this in a top-level strongwoman competition – so it's hard to predict this, too, especially with the fatigue of competing all weekend.

Hannah Linzay has proven herself as a top stonelifter, so keep an eye out for her and her intensity in these events!

All of the women's events immediately precede the men's – it's a format I thought worked incredibly well last time, so I'm glad it's back.

Rogue Fitness will stream the strongman competitions on YouTube for free. You can view the full schedule online.

Rogue Record Breakers

Rogue Record Breakers events challenge athletes to break a world record to take home some prize money! This year at the Arnold Sports Festival, there are a few record breakers taking place. Some events will be part of the main strongman competitions, and the rest will take place on Sunday.

Since the Replica Dinnie Stones are appearing in the main strongman event, it doesn't look like they'll appear on Sunday.

Having said that, the stone over bar returns to Rogue Record Breakers! The challenge is to lift an Atlas Stone over a 48-inch post for reps without tacky.

Men will use a 460 lb (209kg) stone, aiming to beat Trey Mitchell's record of 5 reps, while the women will use a 350 lb (159kg) stone to set a new world record.

Sadly, Rogue Fitness won't be streaming the Record Breakers this time around, but if you're at the festival, you can watch in person.

The Gathering GoFundMe 2024

Last year, the committee for The Gathering put together a GoFundMe campaign to help fund the 2023 Donald Dinnie Day.

Early this month, Stevie Shanks published a public balance sheet on thedinniestones.com, showing how they spent those funds last year. It's great to see the organizers being so open about the spending and costs of running an event like this!

Alongside the balance sheet, the GoFundMe campaign for this year's Donald Dinnie Day opened, too.

Stevie Shanks writes on the fundraiser page:

Our target is to raise £1,800 by the end of June 2024. 100% of all funding received will go towards running the event and monies left from last year will be added to the fund.

No doubt I'll link to the campaign again closer to the deadline, but if you can afford to, please consider donating.

Donald Dinnie Day Gathering VIII Sunday 4th Aug 24, organized by Stephen Shanks
Dear friends in the stone lifting community. We have started work on… Stephen Shanks needs your support for Donald Dinnie Day Gathering VIII Sunday 4th Aug 24

liftingstones.org's anniversary

This month, liftingstones.org turned four years old! I can't thank everyone enough for their support. The original version of the site was an ugly map and nothing else – I never expected this project would become what it is.

I published the very first article on liftingstones.org (the Inver Stone) exactly four years ago on the 29th of February. I remember thinking to myself earlier this month that I wanted to publish on the 29th just because it's leap day. I must have had exactly the same thought back then, too.

So far, I haven't done anything for any of the anniversaries of the project. Should I plan something for the big five-year milestone in 2025?

Quick-fire updates

  • I'm attending the Arnold Sports Festival here in the UK in a couple of weeks, so I'll keep my eye out for everything related to stonelifting.
  • Table headers (in the stone directory and other pages) now stick to the top of the page when you scroll down, so you can see each data point.
  • I've archived November 2023's newsletter.
  • There are only 4 Dinnie Stones enamel pins left in stock.

As always, thanks for reading!

In strength,


Latest articles

North Rona: Shipwrecked — liftingstones.org
Alexander MacLeod left a lifting stone on Scotland’s remote island of North Rona after wrecking his ship. Does his stone still exist?
Are you stronger than a sumo wrestler? — liftingstones.org
Fukuoka’s Kushida Shrine displays stones dedicated by some of the strongest sumo wrestlers in history.

Dinnie Stones enamel pin

Inspired by the world’s most famous lifting stones, this liftingstones.org original pin is perfect for showing off your love of stonelifting by pinning it to your gym bag, clothes, or anywhere else.