A MYSTERY European strongman will attempt to recreate one of Scotland’s greatest sporting achievements, matching a feat of strength which has stood unchallenged for 154 years.
In 1860 Donald Dinnie - the strongman hailed as “Scotland’s Greatest Athlete” - entered the history books and achieved cult status by carrying two massive boulders, with a combined weight of 775 lb (55 stone or 351kg), a total of 17ft 1in (5.2m) across a road bridge on Royal Deeside.
The stones were fitted with iron rings to which ropes had been attached to help hold scaffolding in place while workmen repaired the Potarch bridge over the River Dee near Kincardine O’Neil.
Strongmen from all over the world have since travelled to Deeside in attempt to emulate Dinnie’s remarkable achievement. None have succeeded.
But today the organisers of the Aboyne Highland Games announced that an unidentified European strongman, understood to be from Croatia, will attempt to match Dinnie’s titanic record at this summer’s games being staged as part of the Year of Homecoming Scotland
A spokeswoman for the games said: “This year the games will celebrate the unique achievements of local legendary Highland athlete and strongman Donald Dinnie.
“Hailed internationally as the ‘World’s Greatest Athlete of the 19th Century’, his renowned feat of carrying the ‘Dinnie Stanes’ across the Potarch bridge will be re-enacted with the actual stones and a backdrop built by pupils of Aboyne Academy.
“A special guest is set to re-enact the famous scenario which took place in the 1860s and attempt to carry the stones, which weigh over 775 lbs for a distance of over five yards.”
Dinnie, who was born in 1837 at Birse, near Aboyne, the son of a local stone mason. He was 23 when he lifted the famous “Dinnie Stones”, which now have pride of place outside the 18th Century Potarch Hotel.
He was Scotland’s first sporting superstar and an all-round athlete who excelled in the sprint, hurdles, long and high jump, pole vault, putting the stone, hammer, tossing the caber and wrestling.
As a professional athlete he toured America, New Zealand and Australia, winning over 11,000 competitions in an amazing athletic career which spanned over 50 years. His winnings would be the equivalent of more than £1 million in today’s money but Dinnie struggled financially in his later years and died in London in 1916 at the age of 78.
According to the Dinnie Stones records, American strongman Bill Bangert carried the stones the width of the bridge in 1971 - but only with the aid of a harness and a rig. In 2001 Irish strongman Glen Ross managed to lift the stones in a strap assisted lift and walked 5ft 6ins with them.
The Aboyne Highland Games are being held on 2 August.