KILSYTH - Birthplace of World Curling 1716

History and Origins of Curling

There are strong and credible claims that Kilsyth is the true birthplace of the "roaring game". The first written reference to a contest using stones on ice come from the records in 1541 from Paisley Abbey, Renfrew, although the word appeared in print in Perth in 1220. By 1511 some form of organised curling was taking already place in the Stirlingshire and Kilsyth areas. But for the records, in 1716, the world's first known (and still surviving) curling club was founded in Kilsyth.

 The old curling pond at Colzium Estate, still exists, now a favourite picnic site and beauty spot which is under threat by Wimpey Homes. Public curling also took place at Banton Loch.

A Brief History of Curling

The true origin of this ancient game is obscure. Some believe it had its beginnings on the frozen ponds and streams of the Continent. Others insist that the "roaring game" is Scottish through and through. The game of curling was already popular in Scotland in the early sixteenth century - as evidenced by a curling stone, inscribed "St. Js B Stirling". A famous curling stone inscribed with the date 1511 was uncovered, along with another bearing the date 1551, when an old pond was drained at Dunblane, Scotland. There is also evidence that at about the same time, the inhabitants of Kilsyth formed one of the first curling organizations, followed soon by other clubs. It was not until 1716 however, that the Kilsyth Curling Club was the first club in the world to be formally constituted. Over one hundred years later, the Grand Caledonian Curling Club was instituted in Edinburgh in the year 1838 for the purpose "of regulating the ancient Scottish game of Curling by general laws".

Both Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott refer to the game as the "manly Scottish exercise."

The game is alive and well in Kilsyth to this day, and both Men's and Ladies sections are thriving, participating in all major competitions. Both sections have won the British Open in the past. The ladies section plays every Monday from the end of September till the end of March at Stirling Ice Rink, and are always looking for new members. Anyone interested in joining the club should contact secretary Elizabeth Bickerton on 0141 776 2680.

Extract from:


Lukowich, Ed, Eigil Ramsfjell, and Bud Somerville. The JOY of CURLING.
Toronto, Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, 1990.

The game of curling is thought to have been invented in late medieval Scotland, with the first written reference to a contest using stones on ice coming from the records of Paisley Abbey, Renfrew, in February 1541. Two paintings (both dated 1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder depict Dutch peasants curling—Scotland and the Low Countries had strong trading and cultural links during this period, which is also evident in the history of golf.

The word curling first appears in print in 1620 in Perth, in the preface and the verses of a poem by Henry Adamson. The game was (and still is, in Scotland) also known as "the roaring game" because of the sound the stones make while traveling over the pebble (droplets of water applied to the playing surface). The word derives[citation needed] from the Scots language verb curr [1] which describes a low rumble (a cognate of the English language verb purr). The word does not take its name from the motion of the stones, which due to their deviation from a straight-line trajectory are said to curl.

In the early history of curling, the rocks were simply flat-bottomed river stones that were sometimes notched or shaped; the thrower had little control over the rock, and relied more on luck than skill to win, unlike today's reliance on skill and strategy. Outdoor curling was very popular in Scotland between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries as the climate provided good ice conditions every winter. Scotland is home to the international governing body for curling, the World Curling Federation, Perth, which originated as a committee of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, the mother club of curling. Today the game is most firmly established in Canada, having been taken there by Scottish emigrants. The Royal Montreal Curling Club, the oldest active athletic club of any kind in North America, was established in 1807. The first curling club in the United States began in 1830, and the game was introduced to Switzerland and Sweden before the end of the nineteenth century, also by Scots. Today, curling is played all over Europe and has spread to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and even the People's Republic of China and Korea.


Scan of a photocopy of original by R. de Salis, of a page from the Illustrated London News, of January 1854. Picture shows a curling medal match at Fingask Castle, Perthshire, Scotland. The engraving was taken from a sketch by H. H. Milne dated 18 February 1853, drawn from memory of the medal match the day before, 17 February 1853

The first world curling championship in the sport was limited to men and was known as the "Scotch Cup" held in Falkirk and Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1959. The first ever world title was won by the Canadian team from Regina, Saskatchewan, skipped by Ernie Richardson. (The skip is the team captain, see below.)

Curling has been an official sport in the Winter Olympic Games since the 1998 Winter Olympics. In February 2006, the International Olympic Committee retroactively decided that the curling competition from the 1924 Winter Olympics (originally called Semaine des Sports d'Hiver or International Winter Sports Week) would be considered official Olympic events and no longer be considered demonstration events. Thus, the first Olympic medals in curling, which at the time was played outside, were awarded for the 1924 Winter Games with the gold medal won by Great Britain and Ireland, two silver medals by Sweden and the bronze by France.

The first curling club in the United States was organized in 1831 only thirty miles from Detroit at Orchard Lake, Michigan. Called the 'Orchard Lake Curling Club', the club used hickory block 'stones'. A Detroit Curling Club was started back in 1840 when Michigan only had a population of 212,000 and had only been in the Union for three years. About this time an organization called the 'Thistle Club' was founded and, curling being a winter sport, was played when the ice was right on the Detroit River at the foot of Joseph Campau, on the bay, and at the old Recreation Park. These clubs became the 'Granite Club' and in 1885 the present Detroit Curling Club was organized.