Gaming with Aoife

This week, Aiofe offers a bonus list of entertainments for indoors and outdoors.

Greetings! Due to a freak snowstorm — snowday from school — and the fact that my kids are all still asleep (so I can use the computer uninterrupted), here is a bonus Links list. In wishful thinking, as the snow flies outside, I've included all sorts of outdoor and some indoor games that are somewhat related. This list is perfect for those planning amusements at events. There's information on: Bocce, Quoits (a horse shoe like game), Croquet, Tennis, Battledore/Shuttlecock, Bowling (Ninepins, etc.), Shove-penny, skittles, and a couple bonus curiosity games.

These are perfect games to break the ice at an event, and work very well with children's (and adults :) activities. If your group owned a set of playing equipment, you'd just have to make an announcement, present the equipment and rules, and let the good times roll! Why not have an active games tournament, form teams or a league to play against other groups?

I hope you enjoy this list in the spirit it was offered. Please feel free to pass this list along to whomever will find it interesting, and use it to update your own website links lists.


A long list of links to the game. Note that some of the links are dead, but many are useful.

Bocce History
(Site excerpt) The early Romans were among the first to play a game resembling what we know as bocce today. In early times they used coconuts brought back from Africa and later used hard olive wood to carve out bocce balls. Beginning with Emperor Augustus, bocce became the sport of statesman and rulers. From the early Greek physician Ipocrates to the great Italian Renaissance man Galileo, the early participants of bocce have noted that the game's athleticism and spirit of competition rejuvenates the body.

The History of Bocce, an Ancient Game
(Site Excerpt) Throughout the centuries, the game enjoyed rapid growth as one of Europe's most popular pastimes, so much so that at one point in history several governments began to regulate its usage. Why? Because it was found that the popularity of the game interfered at times with the security of the state. In other words, the public at large was more interested in playing bocce than in defending their sovereignty! Rulers were moved to action. While Kings Carlos IV and V prohibited the playing of bocce (citing national security), several medical docents from the University of Montpellier, France, did their part by discrediting the claim that playing bocce had great therapeutic effect in curing rheumatism.

History of Bowling
(Site Excerpt) Early History
Rolling a ball to knock down targets has been the object of a number of games, at various times and in various parts of the world. The implements for such a game have been found in an Egyptian tomb that's more than 7,000 years old, and a sort of bowling has been popular among Polynesian Islanders for at least several centuries.

History of Bowling, NJ Bowling Association
(Site Excerpt) The Italian version of bowling, bocce, which is still played today, is somewhat similar to lawn bowling--an English game originating over 800 years ago. The English also played other games which can be considered variations of bowling--such as half-bowls, skittles, and nine pins.The form of bowling we play today, bowling at pins, was first mentioned in a book about the city of London, England, written over 800 years ago. In those days, bowling was strictly an outdoor game. The first indoor bowling took place in London as far back as 1455. It was a popular game reserved mainly for the nobility. In Germany, the name of the game was kegling--and the participants were known as "keglers".

History of Bowling: Just Where in the Heck Did Bowling Come From? by Mark Miller
(Site Excerpt) Bowling was recorded in England as early as the 1100s. In the Netherlands people took up a related game, and it was the Dutch who introduced the sport to America in the 1600s -- it was called Dutch pins. In what is now New York City, Dutch residents bowled in a section of the city still known as "Bowling Green."

The Bowling Museum
(Site Excerpt) There is substantial evidence that a form of bowling was in vogue in England in 1366, when King Edward III allegedly outlawed it to keep his troops focused on archery practice. And it is almost certain that bowling was popular during the reign of Henry VIII.

The history and rules of lawn bowling
(Site excerpt) Historians suggest the game made its way across Europe with Julius Caesar's centurions. At that time, and still today among Italians, the game was known as "bocce". By the 13th Century, "bowls", was entrenched in the British Isles. At the turn of the century, 1299 AD, the Southhampton Old Bowling Green Club was organized in England. The club remains active today, the oldest of record in the world. Global politics threatened the game for a time. In the 14th Century, it was banned for commoners in France and England because archery, essential for defense, was losing popularity. The Scottish were having none of it. In Scotland the game continued uninterrupted, a favorite among even such legendary notables as Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. In Glasgow today 200 public bowling greens are in operation, including some enclosed greens for winter play.

The Online Guide to Traditional Games: History of Skittles and Ninepins
(Site Excerpt) Skittles or Nine Pins, the forerunner of 10 pin bowling, has long been played in the Inns of England. In general, players take turns to throw wooden balls down a lane at the end of which are several wooden skittles in an attempt to knock them all over. There are a number of skittle games across England and there have been many more in the past. In Germany, in the 3rd or 4th century monks played a game with a kegel which was a club carried for self defence. In the game, the kegel represented a sin or temptation and the monks would throw stones at it until they knocked it over. The modern German term for skittles is Kegelen.

Table Skittles - History and Useful Information
(Site Excerpt) Hood Skittles is a miniaturised version of Old English Skittles (please see the Alley Skittles page for more information on this venerable game) in which cheeses are thrown at pins on a table about 8 feet away. It is extremely popular Northamptonshire and well known in Leicestershire, Bedfordshire and surrounding counties.

The Game of London Skittles (Old English Skittles)
(Site Excerpt) The traditional pub game of London Skittles is played with nine pins. Unlike other forms of alley skittles it is played not with a ball but a cheese, which is thrown (not rolled) at the pins. The game, also known as Old English Skittles, is played at two venues in London. At the Freemasons Arms in Hampstead, the skittle alley is tucked away in the pub cellar. With the periodic thud of lignum vitae on hornbeam emanating from below, tourists stumble upon it as often as the locals.

Bowls History
(Site Excerpt) King Henry VIII was also a lawn bowler. However, he banned the game for those who were not wealthy or "well to do" because "Bowyers, Fletchers, Stringers and Arrowhead makers" were spending more time at recreational events such as bowls instead of practising their trade. Henry VIII requested that anybody who wished to keep a green pay a fee of 100 pounds. However, the green could only be used for private play and he forbade anyone to "play at any bowle or bowles in open space out of his own garden or orchard".

Croquet and cousins: Origins and Ground Billiards
(Site Excerpt) Mallet and ball games are thought to have been first played in England and Europe during the middle ages. Games would normally involve only one ball which would be struck through very wide hoops. A Croquet-like game is believed to have been played by thirteenth century French peasants who used crudely fashioned mallets to whack wooden balls balls through hoops made of willow branches. A variety of equipment has been found indicating that, as was typical, there were no standards and a variety of rules and types of game were in existence for several centuries. One type of game which this author calls Ground Billiards' featured a hoop and a stick, a point being scored for each time your ball was first through the hoop and onto hit the stick. At some point in the 15th century someone chose to invent an indoor variation of this played on a table which led to Billiards and that whole family of games.

Quoits History
(Site Excerpt) Quoits has is related to another early pub game, the throwing of horseshoes at a pin in the ground. Some theories have it that Quoits developed from Horseshoe pitching as a formalised version of the sport. Horseshoe pitching is still played today, notably in certain regions of the USA, the rules being similar to those of the Northern Quoits game outlined below. The theory espoused by Peter Brown, President of the National Quoits Association is just the opposite. A quoit in ancient times was synonymous with a discus, and so he thinks that Quoits and discus are one and the same thing and that Quoits was therefore one of the sports played at the first Greek Olympiad. He also suggests that the Greeks passed on Quoits, a weapon of war, to the Romans who also brought the game to Britain and that the origins may go back even further to the Minoan empire c.2000B.C. where the boy king of Knossos apparently used the discus/quoit to cull escaping slaves. Horseshoe pitching in this case came about as a poor-man's version of Quoits using left-over horseshoes instead of the real thing.

The Ancient Game of Quoits
(Beware wrapped links, where the end of the URL is dropped off the hotlink. Copy-paste address to the browser window if you're having trouble with the link)
(Site Excerpt) The Tradition of the "Sport of Quoits" is ancient and very absorbing. It is on record that historians have recorded that it was one of the five games played at the Pentathlon Meetings held in Greece over 2,000 years ago. This booklet, without any pretence of being complete, endeavours to give records of the sport as we best know from information received, and press cuttings.

Ringing the Bull
(Site Excerpt) This is an indoor game the aim of which is to swing a metal ring which is dangled from the ceiling on a rope, onto a metal hook on the wall. Originally, the hook was a bull's horn. Quite often the hook is embedded in the nose of the head of a bull on the wall. Other variants exist featuring other animals such as stags and pigs. The game is one of the oldest in the country; legend has it that it was brought back by Crusaders from Jerusalem.

Toad in the Hole (Pitch Penny)
(Site Excerpt) There are a whole variety of games which simply involve the throwing of coins or discs at walls or at holes in a bench, chair, wall or box. The most well know example in England comes from Norfolk and Essex and is called Pitch Penny, Penny Seat, Penny Slot, Tossing the Penny or Penny in the Hole. Essentially pennies are thrown across the room and into a hole carved in the seat of a high-backed settle or wooden bench.

Batledore and Shuttlecock
(Site Excerpt) Battledore and shuttlecock is a game which probably developed in Ancient Greece around 2000 years ago. From there is apparently spread East to China, Japan, India and Siam. Peasants played it in medieval England and by the late 16th century, it had become a popular children's game. In the 17th century, Battledore or Jeu de Volant was an upper class pastime in many European countries. Battledore and Shuttlecock was simply two people hitting a shuttlecock backwards and forwards with a simple bat as many times as they could without allowing it to hit the ground. In 1830, the record for the number of hits was made by the Somerset family and was apparently 2117 hits.

(Site Excerpt) There is an Egyptian town on the Nile called Tinnis (in Arabic) and some speculate that this is the origin of the name 'Tennis'. Another string to this theory's bow is that the term 'racquet' is thought to derive from the Arabic word 'rahat' which means 'the palm of the hand'. However, the first game which was definitely like Tennis was played in France and the alternative philological theory is that 'Tennis' comes from the French 'Tenez' ('Take it' or 'Play'). Legend has it that the game was given to the French Royal Court in the 10th century by a wandering minstrel but, regardless, by the 11th century early Tennis was being played in French monasteries for sure. The monks usually stretched a rope across the cloistered central quadrangles in the monastery or sometimes played immediately adjacent to a castle and the court of the game of Royal Tennis is clearly synonymous with these beginnings.....By the 14th century, Tennis had found its way to England where both Henry VII and Henry VIII apparently became keen players and instigated the building of courts up and down the country. Apparently Henry VIII invented the 'service' - his servants used to throw the ball up in the air for him because he was too fat to do it himself.