Donald Dinnie was one of the world’s greatest athletes, and is still widely considered to be one of the greatest strong men of all time.
Even although he was born as long ago as July 1837 in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, his name still lives on wherever he competed. I’ve an old newspaper article from more than a century ago that refers to him as “Champion Athlete of the World and Winner of 10,670 contests”.
His father was a stonemason. Coincidentally, a man by the name of Mackenzie — who once worked beside Dinnie in his younger days — came to work for my grandfather, who was also a stonemason.
Having been in Deeside today, taking a walk from Ballater around the “Seven Bridges” and to Knock Castle, I thought I’d stop off on the way home at Potarch. This spot, just a few miles east of Kincardine o’ Neil, is the site of the famous “Dinnie Stanes” – two muckle boulders, each fitted with an iron ring and weighing a combined 775lbs.
Potarch Bridge crosses the Dee close by. The width of the bridge is about 15 feet.
How many folk living, if any, I wonder might be able to match Dinnie’s achievement by carrying these stones from one side of the bridge to the other, and then back again?
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