A major touring exhibition on the Lewis Chessmen was made possible by a partnership between the British Museum and National Museums Scotland (NMS). The exhibition includes 30 chess pieces in total, 24 from the British Museum and six from NMS.
The Lewis Chessmen, discovered on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in 1831, are one of the highlights of the British Museum collection. They consist of elaborately worked walrus ivory and whales' teeth in the form of seated kings and queens, mitred bishops, knights on their mounts, standing warders and obelisk-shaped pawns. The exhibition looks at the mystery and intrigue surrounding the chessmen, exploring the stories of their discovery and how the characters reflected society at the time they were made.
The Lewis Chessmen in the British Museum collection have toured extensively across the UK and internationally. They were lent to Museum nan Eilean, Stornoway and the National Museum of Scotland in 1995-6. Selected objects also travelled the UK as part of the special exhibition Across the Board between 2005-7 and internationally as part of the exhibition Treasures of the British Museum, where they were seen by 2.7 million people in over 10 venues.
King from the Lewis chessmen. Probably made in Norway, about AD 1150-1200, found on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.