Ewan McTaggart goes home to his village of Airth each summer for the games and tells us that the tradition in Scotland of lifting stones as a feat of strength is as old as recorded history. Young clansmen would be required to lift a "manhood" stone as an initiation test to prove their strength. Recruiting sergeants might choose only the strongest men who could lift a particular stone or anvil.
And where would you go to find the heaviest stone in the village?
To the smiddy, of course. Outside Airth's smiddy, the farrier/blacksmith had a large stone with a ring which was used for tethering those big Scottish Clydesdales while they were waiting to be shod. This would be a much bigger version of the old iron "horse weights" used to tether harness horses.
|The "stane" is equipped with a big ring for tethering a horse. Perhaps, over time, the size of the ring increased so two human hands could grip and lift the stone once a year. (Ewan McTaggart photo)|
In Airth, they continue the tradition of carrying the stane across the village green during the games each summer. The fact that it's carried--and judged--by men wearing kilts makes it even more fun for the rest of the world to see.
And what is the prize for carrying the stane the farthest? A bottle of whiskey, of course.
Thanks to Ewan McTaggart for sharing his photos, and for the village of Airth for preserving the smiddy stane tradition.