Every now and then, this story about the purported Roman origins of hopscotch pops up … most recently in the East London Advertiser:
The game involving hopping between squares on a chalk grid dates back to Roman times.
It was used originally for military training when foot soldiers ran in full armour and field packs along hopscotch grids 100ft long to improve their footwork.
Roman children imitated the soldiers, drawing their own smaller grids on the ground.
It appears in too many websites to mention, but always seems to be tied to the UK somehow. I think I’ve managed to find a possible indirect origin for the tale … in the 1870 edition of the Journal of the British Archaeological Association we read:
Later, in the same proceedings:
I invite folks to click on those links to read the full thing … as often, I don’t think there really is any evidence for Roman hopscotch (I seem to remember once discussing this with someone online … specifically, that there is a ‘hopscotch court’ somewhere in Rome on some Roman monument (and I seem to recall that Augustus’ horologium is also involved) … does anyone recall such things?)