Let it Snow! Medieval Winter Sports

This week, Dame Aoife devotes her Links to the subject of winter sports, and you may be surprised to learn how many "modern" winter sports are actually period.

Greetings, Faithful Readers!

Short but fun: This week we're focusing on medieval winter sports. Have a hankering to hit the slopes? Fear not, Skiing predates the Middle Ages! Skating is more your thing? Not to worry, ice skating is a fine traditional winter sport your personae can enjoy.

So, with a white winter bearing down upon us, perhaps it's time to dust off your woolens and get out there, to overawe your neighbors and friends with a fine pair of bone ice skate (or iron-bladed ones for you renaissance personae out there). After all, winter is too much fun to pass up just because you don't know if your sport is (or isn't) medieval!



Dame Aoife Finn
a/k/a Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt
Riverouge, Endless Hills, Aethelmearc

History of Skiing
(Site Excerpt) The first hints to the existence of skis are on 4500 to 5000 year old rock drawings, e.g. at Rødøy in Norway. There are also remains of skis in bogs, with the oldest ski found in Hoting, Sweden, which is about 4500 years old.

History of Alpine Skiing
(Site Excerpt) Before skis were used for fun and leisure, the ski was used for work and transportation. The oldest known version is a wide, short ski found in Sweden that has been shown to be over 4500 years old, and cave and rock drawings suggest that skis were used even long before then. These first skis may have been used by a hunter or a traveler, as they were commonly used during the long winters in Northern Russia and the Scandinavian countries. Early skis were not made for speed, but to designed to keep a traveler on top of the snow as they went about their business.

History of Snowskiing
(Site Excerpt) Literary reference to skiing can also be found in Europe's far north in Virgil's Aeneid, written almost 2000 years ago.Throughout Nordic history, skiing has been a major catalyst of great events. An illustrative example is found in Sweden history. In 1521 the Danes overran Sweden and massacred all the Swedish nobles but one, Gustav Vasa, who was able to escape. The Swedes were left without a leader, so two desperate peasants set out on skis to find Gustav. He came back, drove the Danes out of Sweden, and set up the kindom that survives to this day.

Hurstwic Bone Ice Skates
(Site Excerpt) The bones were tied to the bottom of the shoes using leather thongs. The holes for the thong are in the sides of the skates at the front and back. The front of the skate (to the left in the sketch) has been shaped into a wedge to help the skate to pass over irregularities on the surface of the ice.

BBC London Features: Ice Skating Medieval Style
(Site Excerpt) Somerset House is just one of many amazing ice rinks to be found in London this year but ice skating in the capital is nothing new. A new exhibition, Medieval London, includes a pair of ice skates dating back to the Medieval times.

Figure Skating History
(Site Excerpt) Iron blades were created in Iceland during this time. A pole wasn't needed anymore, because the iron blades gave a person more speed .

Breughal's 'Hunters in the Snow'