exhibitions & events:
Most of us associate them with childhood and winter adventures. Skates, because that's what this is about, provided entertainment and made the cold days of many of us more enjoyable. However, few of us realize that this is not an invention of the last three hundred years. Their genesis is more complex than it might seem. The first man-made skates were found at the bottom of a lake in Switzerland. They come from 4-5 thousand years ago and do not look like we know them now because they were made of animal bones. Ancient skates can be seen at the exhibition called "In the burgh of Bydgosta. Secrets of life of early medieval inhabitants of Bydgoszcz and the surrounding area". These monuments are in the Archaeological Collection of the Leon Wyczółkowski District Museum in Bydgoszcz. The ones presented as „the object of the month” come from the period from the 11th to the 13th century. The Bydgoszcz archaeological department boasts one of the largest bone skates collections in Poland. The largest number of them in our region, about 30, was discovered during the research of the settlement located in the center of Bydgoszcz. The wooden stronghold served the former inhabitants of Bydgoszcz and the Polish state from the time of Casimir the Restorer (Kazimierz Odnowiciel) to the reign of Casimir III the Great (Kazimierz III Wielki).
The first skates were made of animal bones. Depending on the country and type of animal being bred - horse, elk, reindeer and cattle bones were used for their production. Most often horse bones were used because they were straight, thick and hard. Skates were widely used by our ancestors throughout Poland. Most often they were discovered in fortresses from the early Middle Ages. The oldest of them were found by archaeologists in Biskupin and came from the 6th century BC. Creating a skate began with bone processing and polishing. The bottom of the long surface was smoothed to give a smooth skid. However, one of the ends of the bone was formed in the shape of "beak-nose." At the beginning and end of the skate holes were drilled through which the thong was pulled. In this way they were attached to the foot. The holes made it easy to carry them. Probably thanks to this they were less likely to be lost and could be used for a long time. This is evidenced by some specimens, where the skid has been worn down to the bone marrow. In addition, two pointed poles were used to move on bone skates. They were used to move on ice and compact snow.
Contrary to appearances, bone skids were not only for entertainment purposes. First of all, they were a useful object that facilitated faster movement in the real world and easier overcoming long distances during the winter. It wasn't until centuries later that they changed their role and purpose. At the beginning of the 14th century, with the disappearance of stronghold centers, the bones were replaced with wooden blocks, to which skids with metal stiffening were added. This was the case until the 18th century, when skids began to be made entirely of iron. The revolution occurred when the American ballet master Jackson Haines joined the blade and the shoe together. Thanks to this, it was possible to introduce more advanced evolutions on ice. The Netherlands had the greatest contribution to the development of skating, and because of natural conditions excelled in its popularity. It was the Dutch who introduced the elongated skids, called "the Panchens" in Poland. In 1889, the first world speed skating championships were also organized in the Netherlands. The last modification in the appearance of the skid was after 1900 by adding teeth at the tip of the blade. This significantly facilitated the creation of skating figures.