Friday, 22 October 2010

Isle of Lewis Chess

Probably the most famous chess pieces in the world!

The ‘Lewis Chessmen’, of Viking origin, are believed to be the oldest surviving chess pieces in the world. Dating from 12th century and made from Walrus ivory and whales' teeth, there are 93 in total.  They probably represent the most important Medieval Chess Pieces to be found.

They are so-called because of their discovery in early 1831 on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The Isle of Lewis Chess pieces were found in a sand bank at the head of Camas Uig on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis. In 12th century when they were originally buried, the Western Isles formed part of the Kingdom of Norway. 

It is widely believed that they had been deliberately buried by a merchant while being transported from Norway to Ireland to be traded. This belief is supported by the fact that, although there are some pieces missing, there are the constituent pieces to comprise about four sets.

They are now housed in the British Museum, London which exhibits 82 of them and in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland which has 11.

Beautifully made and amazingly detailed replica Isle of Lewis Chess Set pieces and other Medieval Chess Sets can be purchased now at CheckmateChessSets. They are made from crushed stone or marble combined with a resin mixture. There are no less than five great Isle of Lewis Chess options to choose from!

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