Curling was invented in medieval Scotland, with the first written reference to a contest using stones on ice coming from the records of Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire, in February 1541. Two paintings, “Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap” and “The Hunters in the Snow” (both dated 1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder depict Flemish 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 game was (and still is, in Scotland and Scottish-settled regions like southern New Zealand) 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).
In the early history of curling, the playing stones were simply flat-bottomed river stones, which were of inconsistent size, shape and smoothness. Unlike today, the thrower had little control over the ‘curl’ or velocity and relied more on luck than on precision, skill and strategy.
Outdoor curling was very popular in Scotland between the 16th and 19th centuries because 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 established sports club still active in North America, was established in 1807. The first curling club in the United States was established in 1830, and the game was introduced to Switzerland and Sweden before the end of the 19th century, also by Scots. Today, curling is played all over Europe and has spread to Brazil, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Korea.
adapted from wikipedia.