The Early Game
Although it appears that curling was widespread in Scotland from the 1500s, references to the game are scarce in early records. Unlike golf and football it did not distract Scottish manhood from archery and swordplay and therefore there was no need to legislate against it.

The Muses Threnodie, 1638 A poem containing the earliest mention of curling in print. It is first mentioned in print in a poem, "The Muses Threnodie" published in 1638, where the possessions of James Gall, a merchant of Perth are listed,
His hats, his hoods, his belts, his bones,
His allay bowles, and curling stones

Locally, an early mention of curling occurs in 1694 when Gilbert Corson, Saddler, appeared before the Kirk Session of Glencairn where he,

confessed that at the Curling … he did say the devill tak hime if they got that shot.

In early references to the game it is also called "coiting" or "kuting", names which continued to be used in some parts of Scotland.

Between 1500 and 1700 the climate of Scotland passed through the Little Ice Age, which brought the most extreme winter weather since the Ice Age itself. At this time most people were employed in agriculture and they had considerable leisure time during the winter months when the ground was frozen and unworkable. It was during these centuries that curling established itself as the sport of Scotland. Curling on the Nith, Dumfries, c. 1910.

A Tour In Scotland And Voyage To The Hebrides, MDCCLXXII, 1774 In 1774, Thomas Pennant published, "A Tour In Scotland And Voyage To The Hebrides, MDCCLXXII" which contains an account of curling in Scotland, a game totally unfamiliar to the English traveller. In Langholm he records,

Of the sports of these parts, that of curling is a favourite; and one unknown in England : it is an amusement of the winter, and played on the ice, by sliding from one mark to another, great stones of forty to seventy pounds weight, of a hemispherical form, with an iron or wooden handle at top, The object of the player is to lay his stone as near to the mark as possible, to guard that of his partner, which has been laid before, or to strike off that of his antagonist.

In the late 1700s "The Statistical Account of Scotland" was compiled by Sir John Sinclair, this contained an account of every parish in Scotland by its minister. Despite its widespread popularity, only five mention curling, but two of these are in Dumfriesshire. The Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791

The principal diversion or amusement is curling on the ice in the winter, when sometimes scores of people assemble on the waters; and in the most keen, yet friendly manner, engage against one another, and usually conclude the game and day with a good dinner, drink and songs. Dry’sdale (Dryfesdale)

We have but one general amusement, that of curling on the ice: and the parishioners of Wamphray take much credit to themselves for their superior skill in this engaging exercise. After the play is over, it is usual to make a common hearty meal upon beef and greens, in the nearest public house. Wamphray

Curling at Eskrig, Dryfesdale, c. 1910.

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