The Lewis Chessmen
Photo credit: Christian Bickel
In 1831, chess pieces were discovered in a sand dune on the Isle of Lewis. They were carved from walrus ivory and whale teeth into small statues depicting royalty, bishops, mounted knights, warders, and pawns. Beautifully detailed and measuring 6–10 centimeters (2–4 in) in height, the four distinct chess sets were incomplete but had 93 game pieces in all.
Even today, nobody knows where they came from or who made them. While some people believe the origins of these sets are Irish, Scottish, or English, it’s most likely that Scandinavian hands formed the iconic pieces. The figures appear to have been heavily influenced by Norse mythology. The age of the artifacts dates from the late 12th and early 13th centuries, a time when Norway owned the beach where they were found.
Despite being over eight centuries old, the condition of these chess sets is pristine, almost like they were never used. Another theory is that the chessmen aren’t chess pieces at all but rather belong to a hnefatafl set, a game similar to chess. Whatever their true history, the Lewis chessmen remain one of Scotland’s most famous ancient finds and the largest known group of objects to survive from that era.
Isn't it amazing how some pieces like this can stay so nice when exposed to the elements for so long? The workmanship had to be way better than most of the articles we see around us now days.
Coffee in the kitchen this morning. It's still drizzling rain outside!