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Daily life in Europe

The Lewis chessmen

Height: 4 cm - 10.3 cm

 

1831,1101.78-144

The Lewis chessmen

Made in: Norway
Found on: the Island of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
Date: around AD 1150-1200

By the eleventh century chess was a popular game amongst wealthy people. The Lewis chessmen are one of the most amazing finds from medieval times, but they are surrounded in mystery.

They were discovered buried in a sand dune, possibly inside a small stone room. There are 93 chess pieces (enough for four sets), originally coloured red or white. They are in pristine condition and were probably never played with. They were made in Norway, and we will probably never know why they were hidden so far from home. One explanation is that they belonged to a trader who was passing by on his way to Ireland.