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There would not have been a great deal of leisure time for most Vikings during daylight hours as there would be jobs that needed doing. However, on those occasions when the opportunity arose they very much enjoyed playing games and sports.

 

 

As in many societies where physical strength, courage and daring were highly prized characteristics the games that they played would be energetic, violent and sometimes even deadly. Wrestling, weightlifting with heavy stones, arm-wrestling, axe-throwing and even a sport called Knattleikr that resembled a very physical version of cricket would all be played by the men. Of course, these days it's quite unusual for a losing player to storm off only to return with an axe to attack his opponent!

This is not to say, however, that brawn was more popular than brains as board games were also a favourite pastime. These games would require cunning, planning and patience - all qualities that a Viking would hope to possess if they wished to rise to become a Jarl.

Drinking vast quantities of beer or mead (and occasionally wine) was considered a great way to unwind on a dark, cold winter's evening. Drinking competitions were often held, along with musical performances and basic plays.

 

Storytelling was perhaps the most popular way for a whole family to pass the time and they would gather around the fire to hear tales of gods battling each other, men on heroic quests and even the creation of the world itself!

There's no better way to pass the time than an axe-throwing contest!

Round the fire Drinking horn