Southfield Stories – Ailsa Craig

VisitScotland has declared 2022 as the Year of Stories. We wanted to share with you some tales from around Dumfries & Galloway and southern Ayrshire that you may not know or have heard. We hope they will give an added something to your visit to the area, or entice you to plan an adventure here soon.

While you are out and about we ask you to please observe any requests from attractions and businesses with relation to Covid-19. And if you are enjoying the great outdoors please observe the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Ailsa Craig – home of the curling stone

You may be watching the Scottish curlers representing Team GB at the Beijing Olympics, but have you ever wondered where the stones that they play with come from? Not so very far away as it happens….

Ailsa Craig, the island off the coast of Girvan in southern Ayrshire, is the source of Granite that is used to make the stones used in worldwide curling competitions. They are exclusively extracted by Kays Curling, which supplies competitions including the current Winter Olympics in Beijing 2022.

Ailsa Craig curling stones Kays Curling
Curling stones used in international competitions such as the Olympics are supplied by Kays Curling who have exclusive quarrying rights on Ailsa Craig.

Types of granite quarried on Ailsa Craig

  • Ailsa Craig Common Green
  • Ailsa Craig Blue Hone
  • Ailsa Craig Red Hone

If you want to see the granite up close you can visit the Chapel of the Thistle in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the floor is made of Ailsa Craig Common Green granite.

Home for the birds

Today the island is leased to the RSPB until 2050 and is home to gannets, razorbills, kittiwakes, herring gulls, shags, fulmars, puffins and black-backed gulls.

But in the 1500s a castle was built to prevent Spanish invaders gaining a foothold as it is approximately halfway between Ireland and Scotland .

And the island inspired the Romantic Poet John Keats to compose To Ailsa Rock on his walk from London to Scotland.


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