Darth Vader and the Dinnie Stones

By Thom Van Vleck

David Prowse, who became famous portraying Darth Vader, lifts the Dinnie Stones in 1962.

I was perusing my June-July 1964 issue of Iron Man magazine when I came across an article by Dave Webster.  It was titled “The Stones of Strength are Conquered” and it gives a short history of the Dinnie Stones and then talks about Dave Prowse lifting them.  At that time Dave Prowse was “only” the British heavy weight lifting champion….but later he would become famous for a role he played in was was hoped to be a “moderately” successful Sci-Fi movie.  That role was Darth Vader, the movie was “Star Wars” and unless you have lived in a hole the past 35 years….you know the rest!

Dave is listed in the article as 6′7″ (I had heard 6′6″ in other articles) and weighing 273lbs.  He was on a tour with George Eiferman at the time doing lifting feats across Scotland.  Webster states in the article at that time only “John Gallagher, the Scottish dead lift champion” had been successful in lifting the stones since Dinnie had done it all those years earlier.

In the story, Prowse was taken there by a local promoter and there was a television crew and newspaper men there with cameras.  It said that Prowse lifted the stones 6 times, but after that, the article is less clear.  What I mean is that in the photo it is obvious that Prowse is using STRAPS!  The article admits as much, but a line in it makes it seem that Prowse lifted them without straps then used straps for photos.  Here’s the line, “He did – not once, but six times. Using hand straps he repeated a straddle lift with the two stones time after time for photographs and film.”

It is NOT my intention to take away from a great athlete like Prowse or call into question Dave Webster, a man I have met personally several times and was kind enough to compliment me on my own writing (how could a guy like that be bad! haha).  I just want to report the story and note the simple fact that in the photo used, there were straps being used.   As I have stated before in my stories on the Dinnie Stones, It appears that there have been others that have claimed to have lifted the stones…..using straps…..and that little detail is omitted.  Perhaps Dinnie himself used straps and this was not seen as a big deal back then….nobody will ever know for sure.  I have just stated before that lifting the stones with straps is a feat, but lifting them without straps is a WORLD CLASS feat.

It is also interesting to note how Webster reports Dinnie’s feat.  For years there has been a question of whether Dinnie simply deadlifted them, or walked with them, or even carried them across the bridge near the Potarch Inn!  I have been there and that Bridge in at least a couple hundred feat and arches up in the air…..a feat I would have to say would be impossible to carry both stones at once across that bridge.  But Webster states it as such:  ”…Donald Dinnie…lived in this area before touring the world as a professional sportsman.  His father was a builder and one day was repairing the Potarch Bridge.  He used the stones as an anchor in suspending a roped plank over the side of the bridge and when that side was finished Donald was said to have carried the two boulders across the bridge to the other wall-a distance of some five yards!”  So, I take it the stones were on one side (not one end) of the bridge and were carried across to the other side of the bridge (and not to the other end).  This, to me, seems very plausible!

If you ever make the trip to Scotland, the Dinnie Stones are a must see.  The country side around it is beautiful and peaceful, the bridge is a work of art, the river nearby pristine, and go in and have a scotch in the Potarch Inn….and I recommend the mixed grill plate….you will get your fill after tugging on the Dinnie Stones!

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