Knat­tleikr

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - CLASSIFIEDS -

Also known as Vik­ing Ball, this an­cient game was once played by the Vik­ings of Ice­land. To­day no one knows the game’s ex­act rules, but it was be­lieved to be sim­i­lar to ice hockey: Play­ers were di­vided into teams. A hard ball was hit by a stick. The play­ers could also use their hands. Body con­tact was al­lowed in the fight for the ball where the strong­est had the best chance to win. It was a spec­ta­tor game, with tour­na­ments draw­ing huge crowds from all over Ice­land. In­tim­i­da­tion was a vi­tal in­gre­di­ent; sev­eral wars of words have been recorded in the old sagas. The game de­manded so much time that it was played from morn­ing to night. There was a cap­tain on each team. There were penal­ties and a penalty box. It is con­jec­tured by some that the play­ing field was usu­ally a flat ice-cov­ered sur­face. The Vik­ings may have used tar and sand un­der the soles of their boots for trac­tion. In the tra­di­tional sto­ries, usu­ally all that’s men­tioned is the fact that play­ers had dis­putes, and fre­quently, that blood was spilled. If the ball was hit or thrown hard enough, it could knock a player off his feet. To­day the sport is of­ten re-en­acted at me­dieval fairs and by Norse cul­ture en­thu­si­asts as well as a few uni­ver­si­ties with an in­ter­col­le­giate knat­tleikr com­pe­ti­tion that be­gan in 2007.

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