Curling originated in the 16th century in Scotland, where the games were played during winter on frozen ponds and lochs. The earliest-known curling stones came from the Scottish regions of Stirling and Perth and date from 1511. In the early history of curling, the playing stones were simply flat-bottomed stones from rivers or fields, which lacked a handle and were of inconsistent size, shape and smoothness. In the 1600s, stones with handles were introduced, while central Canadian curlers often used 'irons' rather than stones until the early 1900s. Outdoor curling was very popular in Scotland until the 19th century because the climate provided good ice conditions every winter, although purpose-built ponds were later created in many Scottish towns.
The modern version originated in the early 17th century. Kilsyth Curling Club claims to be the first club in the world, having been formally constituted in 1716, it is still in existence today. The IOC recognises the Royal Caledonian Curling Club as developing the first official rules for the sport. In Canada, curling has been taken 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 USA was established in 1830, and the sport was introduced to Switzerland and Sweden before the end of the 19th century, also by Scots. It is recorded that international curling events were staged in the 19th century in Europe and North America.
In 1959, Scotland and Canada reached a major milestone by launching the Scotch Cup series between their national curling champions. World Championships have been held since 1959, actually the Scotch Cup results from 1959 - 1967 now are recognised in the curling history of the World Championship. The women's World Championships have been held since 1979. The International Curling Federation (now World Curling Federation (WCF)) was founded in 1966 in Perth, Scotland. Curling has been a medal sport in the Winter Olympic Games since the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. In 2002, the IOC retroactively decided that the curling demonstration competition from the 1924 Winter Olympics would be considered official events.