A Game of Rolley Hole, Anyone?
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In the beginning
Origins of the game point to immigrants from the British Isles. Or perhaps it’s even more indigenous as the Cherokee of North Carolina today play a game similar to rolley hole. Although played on a much grander scale with a 200-foot-long course and billiard balls in lieu of marbles, the rules and strategies are closely linked. A developing body of lore regarding the roots of the game adds to the mystery and speculation. For example, oral history of the Tennessee game predates the Civil War, and large round game stones have been found throughout the state at 1,000-year-old burial sites.
What is known, however, is that the game remains a way of life for the folks who live here.
“Rolley hole is truly a living tradition that has changed very little over time, and it’s gratifying to see that young people still have a vigorous interest in it,” Fulcher says. “These kids are learning the game the same way they would have learned it 150 years ago: from their parents and grandparents, at home or on the schoolyard. There’s vigor – a lasting power – in this tradition that will carry it into the 21st century.”
Mark Your Calendars! The 26th National Rolley Hole Marbles Championship is slated for Saturday, September 13, in Standing Stone State Park, Hilham, Tennessee.
Have you ever played rolley hole?
Do you still play marbles? What marble games do you remember? Share your story and photos – e-mail us at Editor@Grit.com.
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