06 December 2009

Lewis Chesspersons Again

Everyone's favourite Vikings, the Lewis playing pieces, are in the news again. There is an article in Medieval Archaeology (which I haven't fully digested yet) propounding new theories about what kind of board game the pieces were used for (hnefatafl rather than chess), and why they were found on Lewis (belonged to a rich person who lived there, rather than just accidentally shipwrecked there). No doubt the press accounts (e.g. the BBC website) oversimplify a more nuanced academic article, so I am looking forward to reading that (there is also a bit more detail in the press release). The article is in fact available free online, so it will save me a trip to the library! I have a particular interest, because I have recently argued that one of Earl Rögnvaldr's verses contains a reference to chess, and draw the parallel with the roughly contemporary Lewis pieces.
The other bit of news is that a selection of the playing pieces will go on tour around Scotland in 2010-11: full details are available from the National Museums of Scotland website.

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