Ice skating was an integral part of the winter fenland identity until very recently. When winters were harsh, rivers, stream, dykes and ditches would all freeze over, as well as flooded fields. With thousands of acres of flat flooded land, the fens boasted many champion skaters and there are even stories of children skating to school.
Ice skates were often tied onto boots and looked very different to modern ice skates. They could be made from anything that would allow people to slide along ice, including large animal bones or narrow pieces of metal. Skates or runners could also be used to transport heavy items in the same way we attach coasters or wheels to items today.
Two skates or runners were discovered during an archaeological dig on Bretton Way, where the Eaglewood Neurological Care Centre is now sited. The skates were made from horse bones and showed signs of smoothing and scratching consistent with use. They were discovered inside a large stone-lined well and archaeologists believe that they might have been used to transport the stones that lined it, however they can't rule out personal use either. The well the skates or runners were found in is Roman, but they are presumed to be Saxon or Medieval, because no evidence of skates have been discovered in the country earlier than that date. However, it should be noted that the majority of the features found across the site are of Roman origin and they may well be Roman too. Whatever their date, they are exceedingly unusual and potentially unique.
Reference: A. Pickstone, Iron Age and Roman Remains at Bretton Way, Peterborough, Post Excavation Survey, (Oxford Archaeology East, 2011)