When we brought you the news of Stoneland earlier this month, Rogue Fitness’s second feature documentary about strength sports, it had no release date. So we were surprised and delighted when it was recently released in its entirety on YouTube and Facebook. And we’ve embedded it below so you can watch right here.
At first glance, Stoneland looks like a documentary about the Highland Games, Scotland’s world famous strength sports event that features caber tossing, stone throwing, the tug of war, and a Gaelic version of Mas wrestling, among other events.
A hammer throw depicted in stained glass. Image via Rogue Fitness on YouTube.
But Stoneland is both more restrained and more ambitious, wholly dedicated to the nation’s ancient art of stone lifting. There’s some focus on a Scottish version of Atlas stones and on clach neart, or the Stones of Strength, rocks of twenty to thirty pounds that are thrown for distance.
The real focus of the documentary, however, is on clach cuid fir: the Manhood Stones. For centuries, many villages would have a heavy stone in their centers that boys were expected to one day be able to lift as a rite of passage into manhood. The examination of Manhood Stones is the lens through which the film examines the notions of adulthood, responsibility, leadership, and tradition—it’s not just another movie about dudes lifting weights. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those, either.)
The film spends plenty of time on the why of stone lifting, but there’s also a narrative: James Garner wants to break the world record of holding the Dinnie Stones which, at 734.5 pounds, are Scotland’s heaviest Manhood Stones. (There are two stones, which are lifted in a fashion similar to a Jefferson deadlift.)
Images via Rogue Fitness on YouTube
Along the way, we learn about figureheads like Donald Dinnie, the man credited with revitalizing stone lifting culture in the 19th century, and we see interviews with noted historians of strength sports, including Scottish historian David P. Webster and the American academic Jan Todd, who is the only woman to have lifted the Dinnie Stones. (BarBend cites Jan Todd in some of our own articles — check out our piece on kettlebell history!)
At the time of writing, Stoneland has had over 1.5 million views across Rogue’s Facebook and YouTube accounts. You can watch it in its entirety below.
Hungry for more? Last year, Rogue released their first film about the traditional strength contests in Europe’s Basque region, which focuses on their own approach to and philosophy of stone lifting. We’ve embedded it here, too—why not enjoy a double feature?
Featured image via Rogue Fitness on YouTube.