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Stone Boules

Description:
The Ancient Greeks are said to have played a game of tossing stone balls, called spheristics in the 6th century B.C., the Romans added a target which they tried to get the balls close to.

Versions of this game or similar have been played throughout the world, throughout history, being so popular that it was banned in the 14th century by Henry III of England for fear that his archers would rather play it than practice archery, a similar law was passed in Scotland by James IV in the 15th century. The playing of the game was also prohibited to common people throughout France between the 14th and 17th centuries.

These ball games were usually played in Europe using stone balls like these or with wooden ones studded with nails. These games have different names in different countries but all remain remarkably similar. Petanque in France, Boules or Bowls in England, Bocce in Italy and Kubb in Sweden (possibly dating back to the Vikings) are all simple ball throwing or rolling games with the players aiming at a target or ‘jack’.

The game of boules, sometimes locally known as ‘hinching’ was also immensely popular in Scotland, with every town and village having at least one pitch or green set aside for the game. Players became so obsessive about boules that there are alleged incidents of duels being fought over the outcome of games in Edinburgh. Quoits was also incredibly popular in Lowland Scotland and followed similar rules, with a thrown hoop replacing the ball.
Materials/Media:
stone
Source:
Dean Castle
Digital Number:
EAST019n
Copyright:
East Ayrshire Council