World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0003508024
Reproduction Date:

Title: Knattleikr  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ice hockey, Medieval football, List of sports, Traditional football, History of Iceland
Collection: Ball Games, History of Iceland, Traditional Football
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Knattleikr (English. Ball game) is an ancient ball game played by the Vikings of Iceland.


  • How the game was played 1
  • Knattleikr today 2
  • Historical references 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

How the game was played

Today no one knows the game's exact rules but there is some information.[1]

We know that:

  • 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 lined, usually played on a flat ice‐covered surface. (Though bumpy land‐based ice, svell, is mentioned too.)
  • The Vikings may have used tar and sand under the soles of their boots for traction.

The game was probably similar to the Irish sport of hurling.

Knattleikr today

Today, knattleikr is often reenacted at medieval fairs and by Norse culture enthusiasts. It is also played on some college campuses. Brandeis University, Clark University, Providence College, and Yale University in particular are known for their teams. The first annual New England intercollegiate knattleikr competition (right) was played in April, 2007[2] at Clark University between Clark's team and Brandeis.

The New England Viking reenactment group cautions that the game is dangerous and refers to the Icelandic Gragas laws that a player may leave the game at any time.[2]

Historical references

The most complete descriptions of the game are to be found in the following Icelandic sagas:

See also

  • La Soule, played by the Norsemen of Normandy and Brittany.
  • Broomball, a modern Canadian version.
  • Harpastum a Roman ball game, a word probably derived from harpago, to snatch or take by violence.
  • Cuju, a Chinese ball game originally used to prepare soldiers for battle.

Hurling or GAA


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Hurstwic: Knattleikr - The Viking Ball Game William R. Short,, 2007

External links

  • History of Broomball and Knattleikr

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.