Our famous curling stone is not just one of the oldest objects in our collection, but it is the oldest curling stone in the world! Look closely and you can see 1511 engraved on one side, making it over 500 years old. It was discovered in the Milton Bog – how long had it lain there? Did it fall through the ice during a game? Weighing in at 26 pounds (almost 12kg) it is not hard to imagine that outcome.
The earliest curling stones are called ‘loofies.’ This one is made from black basal;, its smooth surface has a handhold at either end, allowing the curler to grip the stone firmly before sending it ‘roaring’ across the ice.
Curling is a sport native to Scotland but it is now played around the world, taken to pastures new by the many Scots who emigrated from the 17th century onwards. It is often called the ‘Roaring Game’ because of the rumbling sound of the granite stones as they cross the ice.
In times past, Scotland’s cold winters provided perfect conditions for curling on lochs and ponds. It became popular from the 18th century, when many clubs and societies were formed and huge, outdoor gatherings called Bonspiels began to take place. By the 19th century there were around 2,000 outdoor curling ponds in Scotland. But milder winters due to climate change mean that the last Bonspiel took place in 1979 - although every year the Royal Caledonian Curling Club makes plans to hold a Grand Match, just in case the conditions are right.