Bridgewater man joins list of people raising historic Dinnie Stones in Scotland

BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) — In late July, a man from Bridgewater accomplished a feat few people have ever accomplished. Rex Elsea raised the historic Dinnie Stones in Potarch, Scotland, something just over 200 people have ever done.

“With so much at stake we planned this trip, we flew across the sea to Scotland. It felt really, really good not only to be able to do the lift, but not to have any questions about whether I was able to do it,” said Rex Elsea.

Elsea is a Bridgewater College graduate who started CrossFit training, powerlifting and competing in strongman events in her late 20s. Just before COVID struck, he watched a documentary and found out about the Dinnie Stones in Scotland.

“They were used as counterweights in the construction of the Potarch Bridge over the River Dee. That was in the 1800s, and I guess at some point it was used as, “Hey, I bet I can lift these or I bet I can carry them,” Elsea said.

After hearing about the stones, Elsea told his wife he wanted to travel to Scotland and lift them before he turned 40. While COVID delayed his journey, he began training to lift the rocks during the pandemic.

“To even be considered lifting them, you have to videotape yourself doing a 300-pound deadlift, which is about 660 pounds. There’s literally been a lot of deadlifts and squats for years,” Elsea said.

Elsea was given his own iron rings to attach to weight plates and practice lifting the stones, which together weigh 733 pounds.

“My grip would actually bleed the base of my thumbnail, so it’s a bit like tree rings. You can see my thumb had lines all over it about every week,” he said.

Finally, in July, Elsea and his wife made the trip to Scotland, where he became only the 207th person to ever lift the stones.

“I spread her, grabbed her, I was the first person of the day. I pulled them off the floor and I really wanted my name in the book so you have to hold them for two seconds and I made sure they stayed there as long as possible,” Elsea said.

Elsea was joined by others in his group that day and two of them were also able to lift the stones.

“I was there with a gentleman who was below the knee amputated and he was able to lift her. Then the youngest person to lift them was a 16-year-old from Canada and I got to lift with him too, so it was a real honor to lift with these guys,” said Elsea.

During his trip to Scotland, Elsea also learned about another stone that people are lifting called the Inver Stone and he was able to complete this challenge as well.

“It’s just a big egg-shaped rock that weighs 260 pounds, but there aren’t any handles or anything, so you have to pick it up and put it on your lap, and then I put it on a barrel,” Elsea said.

Elsea said he’s planning to take a break from rock lifting and will now pursue something else. He said lifting the stones was a very fulfilling experience and he hopes others will take up the challenge.

“If I can do it, anyone can do it. I’m saying as long as you take the time and plan and train, anyone can do it,” he said.

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