Child's Play

The Vikings were a tough bunch, both at work and at leisure.


When they went on the 794 tour of the Hebrides the natives tended to sit up and notice.

One particular sport favoured by the visitors was described in the Book of Settlement, a medieval Icelandic manuscript, as 'baby-tossing'. The game is one of great skill and the rules are simple: First, you fling a baby up in the air and catch it again (huh, obviously before it hits the ground!) but here's the catch: without using your hands.

The contestant can only use his spear point.

But the gruesome game was not to everyone's taste. "Olver Bairncarle was a highly renowned man in Norway, a great Viking; he would not allow children to be tossed on spear points as was then the custom of Vikings; hence he was called Bairncarle." Bairncarle translates as Babyman - or perhaps more appropriately today as Big-Girl's-Blouse.

Who said Vikings didn't have a sensitive side.

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