Strongmen have reacted angrily after a historic stone was moved behind closed doors where attempts to lift it must be booked by appointment.
The Inver Stone sits next to a cottage in a Highland village from the turn of the 20th century, where any visitor could attempt to lift the 118kg weight.
Successful attempts were recorded in a guestbook by June Richards, the “Keeper of the Stone” for four decades.
But after her death last April at the age of 90, and amid fears the Granite Stone might be stolen, she was moved from Inver to the Braemar Highland Games Center last month.
Strongmen from all over the world visited the chalet on trips to Scotland, with around 30 a year handling the lifting feat.
Now the center can only offer pre-booked ski lifts on weekends, when the facility is open, as the Inver Stone is kept inside.
The Braemar Royal Highland Society, which runs the center, acknowledged that some weightlifters were unhappy with the current arrangement.
However, the center has pledged to erect an outdoor cage next year, with a security access code, so that the strongmen can make attempts 365 days a year.
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Inver Stone is considered to be one of the most famous lifting stones in the world.
Its history dates back to the 17th century, when people traveling through Inver attempted to lift it.
The oval shaped stone was then used as a weight to measure corn and wheat before returning to a lifting challenge.
Used in a strongman competition in Glasgow in the 1960s, it helped inspire what became the Atlas Stone event in the world’s strongest man competition.
World’s three-time strongest man Bill Kazmaier is the most famous athlete to have pressed the stone over his head.
A source said: âThis has been a hot topic for months now.
âAll other lifting stones in Scotland have been in the open for hundreds of years.
âThey shouldn’t be locked up.
“The Inver is historic and should be left in the open so anyone can test its strength without having to fill out a form or make a reservation.”
But David Geddes, president of the Braemar Royal Highland Society, said: âI know there is a feeling among some weightlifters that it should be accessible at all times without an appointment.
âBut that’s not practical at this particular time.
âJune’s son contacted us after his death because he thought the stone should be in the center.
âIt was very kind of him to keep him for all these years. She had been keeping a book since 2004, with all the people who lifted the stone, which was handed down to us.
âWe hope to build a cage for next year so that the stone can be kept outside. We are considering having a key box with a password to open the cage.
âAt this time, we are asking anyone who wishes to try to contact us to avoid being disappointed and we will do our best to accommodate them.
“We also want a place where it will be secure and cannot be stolen.”
A barrel has been offered to the center by a group of strongmen and the challengers can try to lift Inver’s Stone on it.
Famous stone lifter Brett Nicol, 48, said: âBy appointment it’s no use. Many âstone toursâ are organized at the last minute.
âWe’re trying to make sure it’s going to be away all the time. It’s something a lot of guys want.
“The center is a nice place, but we sure don’t want it to be locked up, no luck.”