Battle of Clontarf - The Games Vikings Played

17 Apr 2014

This weekend at the Battle of Clontarf Millenium Festival in St. Anne's Park there will be an events category entitled Celtic Games (Demonstrations) but what types of games did the fiercesome warriors play on their downtime?

Viking Kubb

Kubb (pronounced [kúb] in Swedish or [kub] in Gutnish) is a lawn game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons at them.Kubb can be somewhat described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. Today's version originated on the island of Gotland, Sweden.

Some rules vary from country to country and from region to region, but the ultimate object of the game is to knock over the kubbs on the opposing side, and then knock the "king" over, before the opponent does. This, combined with the fact that there is a certain level of strategy that can be used by players, has led some players and Kubb fans to nickname the game "Viking Chess." Games can last from five minutes to well over an hour. The game can be played on a variety of surfaces such as grass, sand, concrete, snow, or even ice.

Tug of War

Not too different from the game of today tug of war was very popular among the Vikings. Tug of war stories about heroic champions from Scandinavia and Germany circulate Western Europe where Viking warriors pull animal skins over open pits of fire in tests of strength and endurance in preparation for battle and plunder.


Glíma is the Old Norse word that covers several types of Scandinavian folk wrestling: Brokartök, Hryggspenna, and Lausatök. 

Glima is first mentioned in Viking poetry by Bragi hinn gamli Boddason (790-850) og Kveldúlfr Bjálfason (820-878), both of Norwegian Heritage. The poetry is about the Norse god Thor and his journey to Utgards-Loki, where Elli defeats Thor in a wrestling match. Glima is also mentioned in Prose Edda the Icelandic collection of texts from 1220, and in the book Gylfaginning.

Wrestling was the most widespread of sports during the Viking era. It was practiced in all classes of society. Women participated in wrestling too. Wherever Vikings gathered wrestling was a part of the entertainment. Thor was the god of wrestling and wrestling was even written into the system of laws. In the book of laws known as "Grågås" there were rules for wrestling.

Vikings were a very by the nature sporting people as sport was often seen as great practice for war.

This weekend you can get a sample of the sports and games the Vikings used to play at this weekend Battle of Clontarf Festival.




Sources: history.comWikipedia