Knattleikr – Vikings One Ball Game

Knattleikr – popularly known as “One Ball Game” or “An ancient full-contact Viking Game”

Apparently there was Broomball already 1000 years ago in Iceland! The Icelandic Viking Sagas from 1000 years ago mention a game called Knattleikr.

Knattleikr was very popular amongst the Vikings (The Vikings were venturesome seafarers. From Denmark, Norway and Sweden they spread through Europe and the North Atlantic in the period of vigorous Scandinavian expansion (AD 800-1050) known as the Viking Age.).

This game was popular among the children and adults. It can be played either on Ice or Grass. This game was mentioned mainly in the stories such as Icelantic Family Sagas. Instruments requires to play this game are hard bat (like cricket bat – it would be like a stick bat which could be broken in anger and mended on the spot) and a hard ball which could be made of either wood or leather. This game can be played either on “Frozen Pond” or “Green Farms”.

Maybe it was the Icelandic Vikings that brought the game to Canada, when they built the first Viking settlement in Canada near St. Lunaire, Newfoundland at L’Anse aux Meadows 1000 years ago?? In the modern times, the first annual New England intercollegiate knattleikr competition was held in April, 2007.

In today’s world, no one knows the exact rules about this “Knattleikr – One Ball Game” but some of the popular ones are as follows:

– They were divided into teams

– The teams were usually two against two though more could take part

– A hard ball was hit by a bat

– The opponent who didn’t have the ball caught and threw the ball with his hands

– Body contact was allowed in the fight for the ball where the strongest had the best chance to win

– 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

– The playing field was lined

– One had to change clothes for the game

– It was played on the ice or grass

Major sources to find more information about Knattleikr game are in the following Icelandic sagas (The Icelanders’ sagas — many of which are also known as family sagas—are prose histories describing mostly events that took place in Iceland in the 10th and early 11th centuries. They are the best known specimen of Icelandic literature.):

Grettis saga chapter 15

Gísla saga chapters 15 and 18

Egils saga chapter 40 [2]

Eyrbyggja saga chapter 43 [3]

Vopnfirðinga saga chapter 4



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