“Look in the streets and behold the little boys,
How in fruit-season for joy the sing and hop.”
– Alexander Barclay (medieval poet)
I mentioned in a previous post that summer was not only a time for hard work, but also games and other enjoyable activities. Some of these we still recognize and play today, including chess, backgammon, and “draughts,” known to us as checkers. These could be set up on tables under the trees or played indoors. Other common table games were “knucklebones” (throwing dice), “fox & geese” (a strategy game), and “hazard” (a predecessor to craps). Skittles was the predecessor to bowling and was played either outdoors or indoors.
Stoolball was an early form of cricket, hurling (or shinty) was the medieval version of hockey, and shovelboard was much like the present day game of shuffleboard. There were a variety of competitive sporting competitions, including “gameball” (football), archery…
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