Steintoss 1

Photo curtesy of the Berne Chamber of Commerce.

          The concept is simple. Find a very heavy rock and see who is able to throw it the farthest. This event, called the steintoss (steinstossen), has become an institution in Swiss culture and is celebrated yearly at the Berne Swiss Days festival. 

          While the exact date of origin is unknown, the sport is suggested to have originated in the prehistoric Swiss Alpines. The first recorded steintoss competition took place in Basel, Switzerland around the 13th century. In the 15th century, the throwing of a large stone became common at the Swiss Schützenfest, which was a large festival and competition for marksmen. In 1805, The popularity of the steintoss grew and eventually the town of Interlaken, Switzerland made the event central to their Unspunnenfest, which was developed to create unity between the rural and urban populations. The symbol of the event is the unspunnenstein, which weighed 167 pounds and was used at each festival until it was stolen. The festival is held about every 12 years, with the most recent occurrence being 2017. In 1860, Germany adapted the sport to their official track and field lineup, however a 15kg iron brick was used instead of stone.

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