The hunt is on for a strongman – or strongwoman – capable of hoisting themselves into the weightlifting history books by becoming the 100th person to lift the Dinnie Steens.
To date 95 men have managed to lift the two 733lbs Dinnie Steens, unassisted and without the use of hand straps.
The challenger must prove they can lift over 662lbs and provide evidence of doing so without having to use any lifting aids.
Any lift must be agreed a month in advance through the guardians of the stones at the Ballogie Estate, near Aboyne.
Jim Splaine is one of the adjudicators usually involved in recording the lifts and is himself recorded as the fifth person to lift the stones without assistance.
He also holds the record for most successful attempts, as well as being the lightest-ever lifter to move the stones.
Mr Splaine hoisted them 65 times between 1973 and 1994 – when he weighed just 10st 4lb.
On one occasion, in 1975, he completed the challenge with his then eight-year-old son on his shoulders.
Looking back on some of the stones other “memorable” lifts, Mr Splaine said: “David Prowse of TV and film fame (Darth Vader and the first Green Cross Code Man) has been the tallest person so far to have lifted the stones. He lifted them in 1963 with hand straps.
“Jack Shanks was the first unassisted lift since Donald Dinnie and his son Stevie has now also been added to the list of 95 unassisted lifters.
“But I think my most memorable lift has been Enzo Donadio, who at 64 is the oldest person to have lifted them.
“It was a poignant moment as the lift was witnessed by another lifter, the first American to have attempted the stones – Frank Ciavattonne.
“Frank had lifted them in 1996 and he got very emotional when he saw them again.”
Two women have been recorded lifting the stones using hand straps, Jan Todd in 1973 and Leigh Holland-Keen at last year’s Aboyne Gathering.
In May 2018, James Crossley, also known as Hunter from the hit 1990s television show Gladiators, managed to lift the stones off the ground for 34 seconds, beating the previous best time of 33.9 seconds set by America Bryan Hunsaker.
The stones are of unequal weights, the first weighing in at 318.5lbs and the second 414.5lbs, combining for a total of 733lbs.
They were uncovered by David Webster OBE in 1951, slightly upstream from the Potarch Bridge on the south bank.
The stones were originally used as counter ballast-weights for people maintaining the bridge – the rings embedded within the stones would latch the rope used by the workmen as they hung over the side as the stones remained firmly on dry land.
“That’s why they are both the weight of at least three of four men,” said Mr Splaine.
“Donald Dinnie used to work on the bridge himself and would carry them across.
“We are now sitting at 95 lifters and have got three booked in for February – but no-one else is booked in after that – so the 100th lifter is still wide open.”
For more information or to apply to lift the stones, visit www.thedinniestones.com.