8.1 The Sport of Curling

Curling is an outdoor sport played on ice. It was invented in medieval Scotland with a first written reference from Paisley Abbey just to the west of Glasgow, in 1541. Most games are now played indoors, due to the warming of Scottish winters since the ending of the ‘Little Ice Age’ in the 1800s.

This is a slightly humorous drawing of curlers waiting for a stone to be delivered down the ice. Their besoms are very much like the plant in Kohler’s Medicinal Plants [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] published 1887 and the ones shown in the image that comes with the introductory handsel of this unit. They are basically a bundle of sticks tied together.

Curling at Eglinton Castle, Ayrshire in 1860

Originally, the stones which were used to throw on the ice, came from the beds of rivers and were known as channel stanes in Scots. They were stones from the course or ‘channel’ of running water and smoothed by that running water. In the 19th century, the stones were taken from an area of hard granite from the island of Ailsa Craig (Aillse Craig or in Scots Gaelic fairy rock) in the Firth of the river Clyde. The stones were given handles and were worked into a circular shape. The curling stones drawn by John Kerr in his History of Curling (1890) looked very similar to this modern curling stone in the photograph.

Curling Stone by Brett Artnett

In this image from Canada, a player with his besom is sooping up, as the stone is about to strike another. Changing the direction or speed of the stone by even a few centimetres or metres per second can be the difference between defeat and victory and is a skilled task.

Curling is a game played internationally. It was codified in Scotland. The world's oldest national association is the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), founded in 1838. The World Curling Federation (WCF) was founded by the RCCC and is based in Perth, Scotland.

Activity 4

In this activity you will work with two Scots words closely related to Curling.

  1. Search the online Dictionary of the Scots Language for the two words: crampit and loch.

  2. Take a note of the definitions for these two words and find a reference for each word, which relates to the sport of Curling. One is a piece of equipment and one describes a place which is extremely important in Scottish culture.

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Word 1:

Crampet, crampit, cramp-bit, n. Cf. Cramp, n.2 [′krɑmpɪt]

5. A flat piece of iron with 4 spikes, bound to the sole of the shoe to keep a curler from slipping.

6. The iron sheet on the ice on which curlers stand when delivering their stones (Abd.9, Fif.10, Kcb.10 1940). Cf. Cramp, n.2, 3.

Word 2:

Loch, n., v. Also lauch; ‡louch (s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 119), †lough. [lɔx, s.Sc. + lʌuxʍ]

I. n. 1. A lake, a sheet of natural water, an arm of the sea, esp. of the fiord shape (Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict., 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc., universally applied to natural lakes, except the Lake of Menteith in Perthshire. Lake is used only of artificial formations (except as under Lake).

8. Introductory handsel

8.2 The Sport of Gowf