During renovation work at Stirling Castle in the 1970s, this ball was discovered behind paneling in the bedroom that was once used by Mary Queen of Scots. Mary lived there during her reign in the 16th century.
The ball had remained in The Smith Art Gallery and Museum until 1999, where it was re-discovered so that tests could be made to clarify its age.
The ball, which looks like it had been made from a pig’s bladder, was confirmed to be about 436 years old and the experts believe it was created somewhere between 1540 – 1570.
It is recorded that Mary Queen of Scots had indeed refereed a match between an English team and one made up from Scottish and French men in 1568.
The match had taken place in the castle courtyard, as Mary did not have the freedom to roam outside the castle, was played by soldiers and staff from the castle. It is also believed that a woman was involved in the game, all that time ago.
The match, which lasted two hours, was described as one without foul play, and it had obviously been well refereed by Mary. Unfortunately the final score was never recorded.
Whether Mary herself used the ball, is not known, however it is more than likely that it was played as a type of hand ball by the members of both sides.
Guinness book of records state that it is the oldest match ball on record, and it can be viewed on display at Stirling Smith Art Gallery
By Jack Anderson
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