Skating can be dated back as far as the year 800. People in the Netherlands used to strap long pieces of bone or wood to their feet, so they could slide across frozen rivers or canals. Skating as a means of transportation spread throughout Europe. In the mid 1600s, Charles II–the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland–sent his son James, the Duke of Monmouth, to Holland to better his skating skills.
James learned the art of the “Dutch Roll,” when a skater rolls his foot to an edge. The Dutch roll added great speed and beauty to ice skating.
In a woodcut that dates from 1396–“The Accident to St. Lidwina”–a skater appears to be skating on an inside edge. James took the Dutch technique back to England where it became very popular and lead to advances in school figures.
Skaters in Europe have always used the frozen canals and waterways to get from one place to another.