Picture gallery and video: Norfolk villagers shake off the winter blues with little known game of Bosseln

Villagers from Rockland St Mary, Surlingham and Bramerton take part in a game of Bosseln in the quiet country lanes around the villages. Villagers from Rockland St Mary, Surlingham and Bramerton take part in a game of Bosseln in the quiet country lanes around the villages.

Monday, January 20, 2014
1:14 PM

The month of January is traditionally the most depressing of the year with the jollity of the festive season finished and the joys of warm summer sunshine a long way off.

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The rules of bosseln

• Two teams or more take part.

• Each team has a ball of a different colour and one person from each team rolls the ball down a frozen path until it stops.

• The team walks up to where the ball stopped and someone else from the team then rolls it.

• The team that gets to the end in the fewest rolls wins the competition.

But a group of villagers in Norfolk have found a way to lighten the mood by engaging in the game of Bosseln, which is not well-known in Britain, but popular in other parts of northern Europe.

The sport, which involves opposing teams trying to throw a 1.1kg ball as far as they can, was introduced to Norfolk for the first time last year by former Norfolk County Council candidate Ingo Wagenknecht and involved teams from Rockland, Surlingham and Bramerton competing against each other for a small prize.

This year’s match, which started out from Bramerton Village Hall yesterday, attracted even more players, with 40 people taking part compared to last year’s 23.

Mr Wagenknecht said the group formed three teams based on which village they represented. Each team who had to throw the ball along a three-mile course using muddy country lanes from the village hall to the Water’s Edge bar and restaurant in Bramerton. There they were able to enjoy a meal and drinks.

Villagers from of Rockland St Mary, Surlingham and Bramerton take part in a game of Bossel in the quiet country lanes around the villages.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYVillagers from of Rockland St Mary, Surlingham and Bramerton take part in a game of Bossel in the quiet country lanes around the villages. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Mr Wagenknecht, a former German air force serviceman, from Hamburg, said participants had to throw the ball underarm and take it in turns among team members with the aim being to complete the course in fewer throws than the opposing teams.

There are no set rules on the number of people taking part and there could be two or four teams, with the same numbers on each team.

Mr Wagenknecht said the sport was played in Holland, especially in the province of Friesland, as well as in parts of northern Germany and Denmark where the land was flat and easy to roll balls on.

He added teams on the continent played competitively and some of 
the better players could throw the ball more than 400 yards, while his best effort was between 200 and 250 yards.

To keep the players going on freezing cold days, they would drink schnapps.

Mr Wagenknecht said: “It is my aim to introduce it to the Fenlands because they have got really flat lanes. The game works anywhere really and you can play it in the winter.”

David Browne, from Surlingham was one of the players taking 
part. He said: “The game itself is 
not the important thing. It is a wonderful opportunity to get 
people from the three villages together to do something as a group.”

His fellow player Hatty Halstead, on the Rockland team, was taking part with her husband Philip.

She said: “It has really come out of a desire to celebrate this little bit of country and community that we are all very fond of and attached to.”

5 comments

  • We have two sets of balls, Daisy, wooden homemade one's were the weight differs slightly and the professional balls from info at bossel.de in Germany, cost 22 Euro's a ball and they send you a grabber for the ditches, and a broschure, in German, so you have to find a translator.... looking forward to a challenge from the 'hull team'. We are already planning the next course...:)

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Slight problem Ingo-because of the failure of NCC and CCC to spend money on rural roads, those flat Class C or unclassified public roads in the fens are subsided, upheaved or potholed, so your game would have far more hazards on the course than in Bramerton. The game played in parts in the Fens is avoiding wrecking car suspensions-not quite so much fun.

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    Daisy Roots

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • See wikipedia "Irish Road Bowling"

    Report this comment

    Dictate

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • Surlingham won the bosseln on the toss, after coming joint first with Rockland St.Mary, both score 54 throws, with Bramerton, a previous winner, coming third on 57 throws. The roads in the Fenlands are fine, Daisy, the game used to be played over frozen marshes and ditches. As long as there is a pub at the end with a hearty meal, it will work.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • Well fair enough Ingo-we'll have a go and see how far we can hull it and hope we can find the balls in the mud! Any advice on the best sort of ball to use ?Sounds fun and a game all ages can play.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, January 20, 2014

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