Campyng was an early ball game (during the Napoleonic Wars the game may have changed its name to "Prisoners' Base") played by bare-foot or soft-shod peasants.
The two "camps" were of unlimited number but of even strength and set at opposite ends of the field. From one end a "token" (traditionally a gauntlet but later a small hand ball) was flung with a shout of challenge into the opposing camp, whose objective was to field it as swiftly as possible and hurl it back because while the "token" remained in the enemy camp, the opposing side could rush across and drag back as many "prisoners" as they could lay hands upon before the ball was thrown back to reverse the challenge. The game continued until one side had captured all their opponents as prisoners. Later, when it was played in hard shoes with a larger ball, local political feeling ran high and the inter-county contests became serious.
A tough old glove, or a soft shoe, made for a swifter game than did a ball, which takes too long to follow and retrieve.
In the eighteenth century three hundred men took to the field on Diss Common, between Norfolk and Suffolk, and nine deaths ensued!
Because most games wear out a field in patches, the encouragement of "campyng" is of interest. The game did not wear out any special portion of the field as the players stampeded evenly from end to end all over it, firming and levelling the land.
The Campyngland in Colkirk used to be on the opposite side of Church Road.
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