Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Skating in Norman England

Medieval ice skates
And other winter sports.
When the great marsh that washes the northern walls of the city is frozen, dense throngs of youths go forth to disport themselves upon the ice. Some gathering speed by runs, glide sidelong, with feet set well apart, over a vast space of ice. Others make themselves seats of ice like millstones and are dragged along by a number who run before them holding hands. Sometimes they slip owing to the greatness of their speed and fall, everyone of them, upon their faces. Others there are, with more skill to sport in a public place, who fit to their feet shinbones of beasts, lashing them beneath their ankles. With iron shod poles in their hands they strike ever and anon against the ice and are borne along swifter than a bird in flight or a bolt shot from a mangonel. But sometimes by agreement they run one against the other from a great distance and, raising their poles strike one another. One or both fall, not without bodily hurt, since falling  they are borne a long way in opposite directions by the force of their own motion; and wherever the ice touches the head, it scrapes away the skin entirely. Often he that falls breaks shin or arm, if he fall upon it. But  youth is an age greedy for renown, yearning for victory, and exercises itself in mimic battles that it may bear itself more boldly in true combat. (Read entire post.)

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