Skating on Bones

Pair of white leather figure skates
Wait… skating on WHAT?

I live across the street from a park with an outdoor ice rink. It may or may not be one of the main reasons my husband and I bought the house. He’s a hockey player and I’m a figure skater (well, former). We basically both grew up on the ice. How Canadian, I know.

Now that it’s December, and the rink is open for the season, I’m back on the ice again. And it feels great.

But you know what wouldn’t feel so great? If I was on the ice with skates made of bone. To be fair, I’m just guessing here. But I feel like I’m probably right. Because this is what ancient skates made out of bone looked like:

Medieval skates made of bone from Museum of London
These don’t look like they’d go very fast, either. Just saying.

You can find the medieval skates above on display at the Museum of London. Where did they come from? Archaeologists discovered their remains in central and northern Europe. Evidence suggests that they date back about 5,000 years.

Many experts say that the very first bone skates—constructed out of horse or cow shins—originated in Finland in roughly 3,000 BCE. And no, the Finns were not using them to dazzle each other with double axles and sit spins (that we know of). These skates, which they used in tandem with long sticks to propel themselves, were a means of transportation during the long, harsh winters.

These dates mean that ice skating is the oldest-known form of human-powered transport. Cool!