Thurber, B.A.. The Similarity Of Bone Skates Skis

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  • Author: Thurber, B.A.
  • Title: The Similarity Of Bone Skates Skis
  • Published in: Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 9
  • Year: 2013
  • Pages: 197-214
  • E-text: Brepols
  • Reference: Thurber, B.A.. "The Similarity Of Bone Skates Skis." Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 9 (2013): 197-214.

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This short article examines the links in the sagas between bone skates, defined as "ice skates, approximately the length of a human foot, made from the leg bones of large mammals" (p. 197) and skis. Despite archaeological evidence for use of both bone-skates and skis throughout Scandinavia and the Viking world the author can find only one clear reference to the former, ísleggir, in the Norse-Icelandic saga corpus, whilst there are many references to skis. This sole reference appears in Magnússona saga, in a boasting contest between King Eysteinn and King Sigurðr. In his analysis of this passage, B. A. Thurber argues that skating and skiing must be closely related activities since they feature as parallel boasts. He supports this assertion with the suggestion that skaters and skiers employed the same technique - propelling themselves with a single pole or by pushing with one foot ("the skateboarding method" p. 206). Lastly, he argues that the verb skríða (to slide) is a "generic verb of motion" (p. 206) and as such could be used to describe both skating and skiing. He concludes that, in line with the archaeological evidence, bone skates were used by medieval Scandinavians, "but may not have been considered worth remarking on", since they were seen as "simply another kind of ski" (p. 211). B. A. Thurber notes that an instance of renna fótskriðu (to run foot-sliding) is to be found in Njáls saga, when Skarpheðinn slides across the ice to kill Þráinn.


Texta vantar

See also


Chapter 92: fór hann svo hart sem fugl flygi: "The comparison of Skarpheðinn's smooth gliding and the motion of a bird in flight brings to mind the phrase 'saman níðingar skríða' ('birds of a feather flock together' (Zoëga 1910, 382) or literally, 'shameful men glide together'). The smooth flight of a bird seems to be in keeping with skríða 's generic meaning of any smooth motion." (p. ...)


  • Written by: Harry Williams
  • Icelandic/English translation: