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Between the 13th and the 19th centuries, the northern hemisphere was in the grip of a “Little Ice Age”. Temperatures dropped worldwide as summers became cold and wet while winters became colder, long and harsh.

In the Swiss Alps encroaching glaciers destroyed farmlands and villages. Canals and rivers in Great Britain and the Netherlands froze up frequently hampering navigation. Greenland was largely cut off by sea ice for three hundred years. With failing crops, many Norse colonies in Greenland starved to death and disappeared.

While famine and death became common across Europe, people also started taking advantage of the cold weather. Frozen ponds and rivers became impromptu ice skating rinks, and outdoor winter sports became popular pastime activities.

thames-frost-fair-1

A Frost Fair on the River Thames in the winter of 1683-84, by Thomas Wyke.

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© Amusing Planet, 2018.


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