This waymark category records dedicated locations to the sport of lawn bowling, bocci, Pétanque or other forms of non-pin bowling. To waymark the category a photo of the location showing the links or signage indicating that that the game is played there.
Although the sport is primarily played outdoors there are a few locations where there is indoor play. Indoor locations require photos of permanently fixed signage showing that bowls (or local form) is played there.
The history of bowls, in some form or other, reaches well back into antiquity in various parts of the world, though its actual origin is still a matter of conjecture.
Sir Flinders Petrie, a well-known British Egyptologist, reported that during his excavations he found in the grave of a young Egyptian dating about 3200 BC. Among the artifacts, various rounded objects led him to believe that they were used for playing with by rolling them along the ground in a game similar to what we now call Bowls. From Egypt the game is thought to have spread to Greece and Rome.
The Romans played "Bocci", and that word is still used in Italy today. Without a doubt we can thank the Romans for introducing the game to England.
Forms of bowling are not restricted to Egypt. Stone Age excavations in other parts of the world have confirmed that some sort of game was played with rounded rocks which were rolled or bowled to a peg or other marker. Among other places, it was played by ancient Aztecs, North American Indians, in China, and in Polynesia.
Bowls in Britain
The two oldest British sports are archery and bowls, and in centuries past there was conflict between the two, mainly during periods of warfare or national strife. There is a positive recorded history of bowls having been played in England as far back as the 12th century, and it could well have been played much earlier than that.
The increasing popularity of bowls in the 14th century, and the fear by King and Parliament that the practice of archery was being neglected and that the effectiveness of the archers in battle or military operations would therefore be lowered, led to Statutes being passed restricting or forbidding such sports as bowls and tennis.
By the Act of 1541 artificers, labourers, apprentices, husbandmen, servants or serving-men, and other "low-born" people, were specifically forbidden from taking part in the game of bowls, except at Christmas. Heavy monetary fines were provided as penalties for non-observance of the Law.
However, licenses or permits were granted to some of the larger and more influential landowners to allow them to play on their own greens. In 1555, 14 years later, in the reign of Queen Mary, these licenses were withdrawn on the grounds that the game of bowls was being used as an excuse for "unlawful assemblies, conventiclers, seditions, and conspiracies".
In the 19th century the law banning bowls was apparently largely overlooked, and at the least it was not rigorously enforced. Many of the inns had bowling greens, presumably as an amenity to attract customers, and these probably helped the game to survive.
Bring in the Scots
As with golf, the game of Bowls, with more or less the same world-wide Laws, owes its existence to the Scots.
Following on a meeting in Glasgow in 1848, attended by about two hundred players from various clubs all with different Laws for playing the game, W.W. Mitchell of Glasgow, drew up a "uniform code of Laws", and these are the basis of all subsequent Laws.
Outdoor Bowls is usually played on a 35-40 metre flat grassed (or artificial grassed) surface called the green. The green is divided into playing areas called rinks which are about 5 metres wide and the length of the green. (Bowls played indoors is usually played on a flat carpeted surface similarly set out and divided as the outdoor green.)
Players deliver their bowls alternately from a mat at one end on the centerline of the rink, towards a small white ball called the jack at the other end placed on the centerline. Bowls (which weigh about 1.5 kg each) are shaped so that they do not run in a straight line, but take a curved path (bias) towards the jack. Therefore, a bowl can be delivered either forehand or backhand.
The aim of the game is to get one or more bowls closer to the jack than those (the closest bowl) of the opposition one point is scored for each counting bowl. After playing all the bowls in one direction, and agreeing the score, the direction of play is reversed the next end is played back down the rink in the opposite direction. Every game consists of a series of ends and the winner can either be the one who has scored the most shots after a specified number of ends or the first to reach a designated score.
The World Bowls Board includes over forty member countries.
Varations on the Game
In France, the casual form of the game of Pétanque a game very similar to bowls is played by about 17 million people.
Please keep the category officers informed on additional variations of the game - remember non-pin games please.