Friday, December 9, 2011

The object of the day: The world's oldest football

Experts analysing documents from the court of King James IV have discovered that "organized" football was being played in Stirling Castle (Scotland) courtyards more than 500 years ago. The set of accounts from the reign of King James IV revealed that he paid two shillings for a bag of "fut ballis" in April 1497/

The World's Oldest Football was made in Stirling and discovered behind the paneling of the Queen's Chamber in Stirling Castle, which was decorated in the 1540's. Mary Queen of Scots was there at this time and later in life was known to have an interest in all sports but especially golf and football. She recorded a game of football in her diaries while at Carlisle Castle. The ball could have been used in the courtyards within the castle or taken to the royal gardens below the walls. Everyone from the castle, including kings and queens would have been involved. Football was a game for all just as it is today. Was this personal item, belonging to Mary, deliberately placed behind the paneling to act as a protection from witchcraft, a practice common at the time or was it somehow lost. We will never answer that question but we do know that this little ball is the beginning of a sport that now involves a sixth of the population of the world.

The football is now on a permanent display at the  Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Stirling, UK.

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