YARMOUTH - Throughout Scotland there are certain heavy stones revered through the ages as tests for strength. Each has its own legend and a record of names of people who lifted them.
Keith Surette, owner of Jones Gym in Yarmouth, became determined to add his name to some of those lists in mid-October after he watched the documentary Stoneland.
The Dinnie Stones were first on Surette’s list. Named after Donald Dinnie, a stonemason like his father, the stones were used during construction of a bridge in the mid-1800s. The two ring-topped stones, 734 pounds combined, were used as counterweights to raise scaffolding up to the bridge. Dinnie, who weighed around 210 lbs., became famous for lifting them and carrying them across the width of the bridge.
Surette chose not to wear a weightlifting belt because he wanted to lift the same way Donald Dinnie had, 200 years ago. He also wore a kilt for the lifting.
“When you try to pick them up the light one comes off of the ground first,” he said.
“Your body repositions itself to find the best leverage and then finally, if you’re strong enough, the heavier stone comes up.”
The stones’ heaviness and awkwardness took some getting used to. On his first attempt neither stone budged.
He also found the stones’ handles slippery due to the climate. Fate was on his side, however, and he eventually became the 64th person to officially lift the Dinnie stones.
After his first lift he was so excited, he couldn’t sleep. At 6 a.m. he drifted off for two hours, then set off for the next stone.
During his 10 days in Scotland he drove about 1,000 kilometres, lifting 10 stones in total. He says his elbows were his only physical complaint but that there was also a fatigue factor of lifting so many weights in a short period of time.
As a competitor in strongman competitions, he picks up stones quite often.
He’s been to the Canadian Strongman championships three times, the world championships and North American championships once and is travelling to the world championships in December in Raleigh, North Carolina.
He says he’d like to return to Scotland. “There are still more stones I’d like to lift.”
More about Lifting Stones
Watch Surette’s documentary video of his trip.
For more information on the lifting stones of Scotland