Friday, March 17, 2017

Sports & Games - 17C Local Families Ice Skating & Golfing on Ice

Hendrick Avercamp, 1585-1634 A Scene on the Ice (c 1615)

Although this is a 17C image, ice skating by young men is recorded in London in the 12C. The 1st English mention of ice skating is found in a biography of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Beckett written by his former clerk William FitzStephen around 1180, in his "description of the most noble city of London." The account reads: "when the great fenne or moore (which watereth the walles of the citie on the North side) is frozen, many young men play upon the yce, some striding as wide as they may, doe slide swiftly...some tye bones to their feete, & under their heeles, & shoving themselves by a little picked staffe, doe slide as swiftly as birde flyeth in the aire, or an arrow out of a crossbow. Sometime two runne together with poles, & hitting one the other, eyther one or both doe fall, not without hurt; some break their armes, some their legs, but youth desirous of glorie, in this sort exerciseth it selfe against time of warre..."

Golf on snow or ice and classical golf (and perhaps hockey) may share a common ancestor in the Dutch game of "Kolf", played since the Middle Ages. During the Little Ice Age of the 16C and 17C, it was also played on frozen canals, rivers, and lakes. Evidence for Kolf as a popular winter pastime can be seen in numerous 17C paintings. There is also evidence that golf was practiced on snow and ice in Scotland. There was a very active trade between the Dutch and the ports on the east coast of Scotland from the 14C through 17C. Some scholars suggest that Dutch sailors brought the Dutch game to the east coast of Scotland.