Some 100 stones were found in the garden of David and Hazel's home in Troon when the task of relocating David's bequest of his curling memorabilia to the Scottish Curling Trust was undertaken on his death last year. These were in addition to the 300 or so stones that were inside the house, which are now safely in store at Stirling.
David's knowledge of curling's history was unparalleled. I miss him very much. Hardly a day goes by when I come up with a question to which David would immediately have had the answer. Andrew says, "I too miss David. Many is the night I would bring him home and have a dram together talking about curling matters."
Whereas rare and important curling stones found a place inside their house in Troon, David and Hazel's garden was a 'sanctuary' for old curling stones. No matter how unloved in their previous existence, they found a home at Troon, and, on a sunny day outside, they were a worthy topic of conversation.
Take, as an example, the three stones on the top tier of the wall in the photo above. All are single-soled stones, and that dates them from before the middle of the nineteenth century. (I use a date of 1850 as roughly when reversible double soled stones were first manufactured.) The stone on the left is the earliest example - the hole in which the handle was seated is off to the side, the handle itself being L-shaped. The earliest of this type of stone would have had an iron handle, as on the stone that adorns the little pyramid of stones accompanying the wall, see above, permanently fixed in place. It may even have been made in the eighteenth century.
The other two are later. The one on the right (of Common Ailsa) and that in the middle (Carsphairn?) are single soled stones, but with the attachment for the handle in the centre of the stone. This was a small threaded iron bolt, the remains still in place in these two examples, onto which the handle would have been screwed. These handles were the earliest with a 'goose-neck' shape, and were removable.
We can date curling stones by reference to the great curling paintings of the nineteenth century. If you haven't already done so, take a trip to the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh where the beautifully restored painting of the Grand Match at Linlithgow by Charles Lees now hangs, see here.
If you study closely the earlier famous painting of The Curlers by George Harvey, from 1835, see here, you will also see one odd stone which looks to be of this type.
David's Wall is a wonderful reminder of a great man. I am sure he would appreciate it if you consider it as more than a wall of 'old stones', but as a reminder of games played, and enjoyed, on outside ice many years ago.
Photos © Skip Cottage, and my own thanks to Kirsty Letton.