The Origin of Skates in anything like their present form cannot be placed farther back than the so-called Iron Age or about A.D. 200, that is to say, when iron first came into general use in the Northern countries. But the art of sliding on snow shoes or on runners on ice from which skating is derived, is much older than this, and for obvious reasons was practiced only by the inhabitants of the Northern lands. Probably the first of these were the Finns by reason of which from remote times they were called Skrid Finnai or Sliding Finns which were also a common name for the most ancient inhabitants of Sweden and used in the
Goethe at Frankfurt 1862. From The Poetry of Skating
The accident to St. Lydwina, the patron St of Skaters in
There can be no doubt that skating began in earliest times when necessity forced man to acquire some means of travel over ice and snow. What is more he had to be able to move over them at speed weather he was engaged in escaping his enemies, in hunting for food, or merely moving from place to place. Skating by origin belong to the North, to the Scandinavians and Germans for there is no record that the Romans or Greeks knew anything about it, nor is there any word or term in their languages to express skates or skating. The skate in its most primitive form was most probably made of wood and was used
on both snow and ice. In the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge and in the British Museum, however, there are found the bones of deer which have been ground down to be used as sledge runners and for the purpose of binding on to the feet. In April, 1869, during excavations at London Wall some of these were found with two Roman sandal shoes and are now exhibited at Guildhall London.
Norsk Saga. When the various uses of iron became known, runners of this metal was fixed on to wood and in this way the present form of skate began to be developed, and with this development came a certain proficiency in their use, a proficiency special to the Northern peoples, accounted a great accomplishment and one sung with pride in the afore-mentioned Norsk Saga. As, amongst these Northern tribes, there were those who subdued Southern England in A.D. 450 this seems to be the approximate time of the introduction of skating into Britain. That some gadget as a skate for rapid movement on ice was in common use in England in the twelfth century is beyond question, for, in an early translation of FitzStephens Description of London, which was written in Latin and published in 1180, we read:
When the great fenne or moore (which watereth the walls of the citie on the North side) is frozen, many young men play on the ice. . . some striding as wide as they may, doe slide swiftlie; some tye bones to their feete and under their heeles, and shoving themselves with a little picked staff do slide as swiftlie as a birde flyeth in the aire or an arrow out of a cross-bow.
St Lidwina (also know as Lidwid; Lidwina; Lidwina of Shiedam; Lijdwine; Lydwid) the Skating patron saint.