The people of
Ancient Egypt are thought to have used sledges extensively in the construction of their public works, in particular for the transportation of heavy
Sleds and sledges were found in the
Oseberg "Viking" ship excavation. Sledges were useful not only in winter but can be drawn over wet fields, muddy roads, and even hard ground, if one helps them along by greasing the blades with oil or alternatively wetting them with water; in cold weather the water will freeze to ice and they glide along more smoothly with less effort to pull them. The sledge was also highly prized, because – unlike wheeled vehicles – it was exempt from tolls.
Until the late 19th century, a closed winter sled, or
vozok, provided a high-speed means of transport through the snow-covered plains of European
Siberia. It was a means of transport preferred by royals, bishops, and boyars of
Muscovy. Several royal vozoks of historical importance have been preserved in the
Man-hauled sledges were the traditional means of transport on British exploring expeditions to the
Antarctic regions in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Dog sleds were used by most others, such as
Roald Amundsen. Today some people use
kites to tow exploration sleds in such climes.
Horse-drawn sleigh ride, Pakenham, Ontario, Canada
The word sled comes from
Middle English sledde, which itself has the origins in
Old Dutch word slee, meaning "sliding" or "slider". The same word shares common ancestry with both sleigh and sledge.
 The word sleigh, on the other hand, is an anglicized form of the modern Dutch word "slee" and was introduced to the English language by Dutch immigrants to North America.