The name skittles is used to describe a variety of similar games, which are played primarily on the European continent and in North America. Thus, it becomes hard to pin down the person, who invented the game. In other words, nothing concrete is known. Even today, there exist national and regional versions of the game.
Skittles has always been popular in England. In olden days, there were many regional versions of the game with one thing in common: the players would throw balls made of wood along a lane, at the end of which were placed several skittles. Their aim was to knock all of them. The Germans were playing a similar game in the 3rd and 4th century AD used a kegel (a kind of baton or club). This game was popular among the priests and had a religious significance.
Records show that in the 14th century, there were similar games being played in Northern Europe. In some countries, cheese was used to knock the skittles while other preferred cane or similar objects. In the 17th century Holland, the balls had holes in them, much like the modern balls. In those times, the game was also called closh or cloish.
In seventeenth century, a historian lists these popular versions of skittles: (a) skittles, (b) nine pins, (c) Dutch pins, (d) four corners and (e) rolly polly. Today there are a lot more regional variants. The United Kingdom alone has more than ten different types of skittles being played through out the nation.