8 min read

Women in Stonelifting

Why didn't Scottish women lift stones? Plus news and updates from the stonelifting world.

When it's January, I wonder why anyone would want to live the UK. But when May comes around, I wonder why anyone would want to live anywhere else – at least when it come to weather. That's all to say that we're well into spring and the weather has been wonderful. And if (when) the weather turns back grey, cold, and wet (it did), you'll know when I wrote this intro with my rose tinted glasses.

Along with the change in seasons, I've noticed an increase in the number of people looking at the liftingstones.org map as well as photos and videos on Instagram of people going out lifting stones, which means stonelifting season is here, too! If you're planning to go out lifting, take another read through the stonelifting etiquette article to refresh yourself on the dos and don'ts.

Here's your list of topics, feel free to jump around:

  • Women in stonelifting
  • Donald Dinnie Day 2024
  • Dinnie Stones enamel pins supporting Donald Dinnie Day 2024
  • Scotland's Strongest Stonelifter
  • Irish discovery: The Flag(s) of Denn
  • Strength Unknown: Pakistan
  • Quick-fire updates

Women in stonelifting

In this month's guest article, Jamie Gorrian is back with another of his Scottish stonelifting endeavors. A couple of months ago, Jamie asked if I was interested in his story of getting more women involved in stonelifting. As a fan of women's strength sports, I was obviously excited to read about it.

A man stands with two women. They are surrounded by some stones in Sherriffmuir.

As Jamie recounts, it all started with a recurring thought he'd had when out lifting stones: Why aren't women doing this? Those thoughts lead to him to do something about it by creating more opportunities for women to get involved. It's an inspiring story showing that people can create the change they want to see.

But that's not the full story – why didn't Scottish women lift stones in the first place? Jamie and I researched the history and found some possible reasons why there are so few accounts of Scottish women lifting stones. It was quite enlightening learning about the lives of Scottish women from the early modern period; It turns out that the history of Scottish women is still a young a developing field of research, so we may have much more to discover!

Women in stonelifting — liftingstones.org
Why weren’t women lifting stones in Scotland? I decided to find out why and do something about it.

If you enjoyed Jamie's article, follow him on Instagram.

Donald Dinnie Day The Gathering 2024

We're just about two months away from Donald Dinnie Day The Gathering in Potarch, and the excitement in the community is building.

A poster of Donald Dinnie sitting in a chair with the Dinnie Stones beside him, announcing Donald Dinnie Day on 4th August 2024.
The Donald Dinnie Day 2024 poster.

Stevie Shanks announced in an Instagram post that the ground work is complete and the countdown is on. He also mentions there will be some big announcements coming in June!

In the weeks leading up to the event, Stevie is hosting Instagram Live chats with Brett Nicol going into details about the events at the Donald Dinnie Games and the Jan Todd games. You can watch the first one about the Nicol Walking Stones here.

Meanwhile, Levi & Claire over at Smash and Pass are producing the T-Shirts for this year's event, and they're available to pre-order now. Sales of these T-Shirts help fund shirts for competitors, Dinnie Stones lifters, organisers, and volunteers on the day.

A shirt with a red graphic of Donald Dinnie sitting in a chair. The Dinnie Stones are beside him.
The 2024 Donald Dinnie Day T-Shirt by Smash and Pass.

Judging by the comments on social media so far, the community is super excited for The Gathering this year, and it sounds like it may be the best edition yet!

As of writing, The Gathering's GoFundMe still has over £1,000 to raise to hit the goal of £1,800. The Gathering is free to attend, so if you can, consider donating to the GoFundMe.

Donate to 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

Dinnie Stones enamel pins supporting Donald Dinnie Day 2024

Last time, I mentioned that the first batch of Dinnie Stones enamel pins had sold out and that I placed an order for a new batch expected to arrive this month. They actually arrived a little earlier than expected and they've been back in stock for a little while!

While I was waiting on the delivery of the new pins, I was thinking about how I could give more back to the community. Around the same time, I wondered whether there was more I could do than just promoting the Donald Dinnie Day fundraiser.

You may already know that sales of the pins help support the running costs of liftingstones.org – but what if pin sales can support other initiatives too, like The Gathering? With the pins directly relating to Donald Dinnie, it just makes sense. After an email to Stevie to get a thumbs-up on the idea, we were ready.

So now, every sale of a Dinnie Stones enamel pin will directly support the Donald Dinnie Day fundraiser until the end of June when the fundraiser closes.

I announced the campaign on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, and people have ordered and received their pins, with some people ordering pins for the second and third time. I don't think there's a better testimonial for the pins than repeat orders, and I can't thank everyone enough.

Batch two's pins are ready to ship (including internationally) – so head over to the liftingstones.org shop and grab yours to help support Donald Dinnie Day 2024.

Dinnie Stones enamel pin — liftingstones.org
The liftingstones.org original Dinnie Stones enamel pin - celebrating the world’s most famous lifting stones.

Scotland's strongest stonelifter

A couple of weeks ago, the Scotland's Strongest Stonelifter competition took place at Loch Tay for the second time for men and the first time for women.

Athletes battled it out on five events throughout the day: a stonelifting medley, the McGregor Walking Stones, a front hold, The Matthews Stones, and finally a 7-stone barrel load.

A stitch of two photos of the winners of Scotland's Strongest Stonelifter (men left, women right).
Scotland's Strongest Stonelifters 2024. Images: Jamie Gorrian

Men's podium:

  • 1st John Gibb
  • 2nd Ross Mackkintosh
  • 3rd Seb Louvel

Women's podium:

  • 1st Wendy Stewart
  • 2nd Mairi Ross
  • 3rd Isabelle Binette

Matt Jones also set a new men's field record carry with the McGregor Walking Stones at 17.83m (58 feet 6 inches).

Scotland's Strongest Stonelifting was a qualifier for the first ever Britain's Strongest Stonelifter taking place in October (20th). Several more competitions – including England's Strongest Stonelifter and the Battle for Mercia – will decide the rest of the qualified athletes.

It's amazing to see a qualifying competition series leading into a final Britain's Strongest Stonelifter to round-out the season, and I hope it keeps growing!

If you're interested in competing and potentially qualifying for Britain's Strongest Stonelifter, check out the Britain's Strongest Stonelifter event page on Facebook for more details.

Irish discovery: The Flag(s) of Denn

Earlier this month, David Keohan shared a post with a fantastic discovery. A man named Wade contacted Andy Downes with information and a drawing from the mid 20th century showing The Flag of Denn looking a little different from the blocky stone David uncovered a while back.

So David returned to the graveyard with Andy and searched for the distinct stone. After a short search, they'd found something buried under some overgrowth.

A stitch of two images. The left image shows David Keohan with a huge slab that has been shaped. The right image shows an old drawing of the slab.
David Keohan with the newly uncovered original Flag of Denn, matching the drawing. Images: David Keohan

The original Flag of Denn! It looks like it's been buried for a long time, so it likely hasn't been touched or even seen daylight for years. Even so, it clearly matches the stone in the drawing.

The pair weighed the stone at 251kg (533 lb) – making it the heaviest lifting stone in Ireland! And David put wind under it for the first time in modern memory. For good measure, they also weighed the other stone at 174.75kg (385 lb).

Apparently, both stones were used as lifting stones at some point, so this is an incredible discovery. And Ireland now has two Flags of Denn.

If you're somehow not following David Keohan on Instagram, here's the link.

Strength Unknown: Pakistan

A last minute addition to this newsletter is the newest episode of Martins Licis' and Romark Weiss' popular series of Strength Unknown.

This time, the duo are in Pakistan exploring stonelifting within the country, ultimately searching for the unique style of cleaning spherical stones that you've likely seen go viral on social media.

On their journey, they brilliantly document how overwhelming the crowds surrounding some festivals are – I was stressed just watching through their camera lens. I don't want to spoil too much, but it's clear that it would have been nearly impossible to navigate the country and organise the logistics of the trip without the help of their guide.

While I've known of stonelifting in Pakistan for a while, I've never dug deep into the cultures there, so it's wonderful to learn some more about them. And I wish I could produce documentaries like these exploring stonelifting culture across the world.

You can watch the episode on YouTube.

Quick-fire updates

Latest articles

Women in stonelifting — liftingstones.org
Why weren’t women lifting stones in Scotland? I decided to find out why and do something about it.
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?

The liftingstones.org shop

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.