Friday, August 04, 2017

12th Century Chessmen

In 1831 a hoard was discovered under 15 feet of sand at the head of Uig Bay on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland that contained 93 pieces, including 78 chess objects believed to date back to 12th century Norway. The kings, queens, rooks, knights, bishops, and pawns were carved from walrus tusk and whale tooth. Many of the figures have a somewhat comical aspect.

The Lewis Chessmen are believed to have belonged to a merchant who traveled from Norway to Ireland and buried the objects to keep them safe. They may have been carved by Margaret the Adroit, the wife of a noble priest. Most of the figures are held in the British Museum in London; eleven others are at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

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