Dating to the 12th or 13th centuries, the Lewis Chessmen are one of the most significant archaeological discoveries ever made in Scotland. We bring you a taster of some of the intricate walrus ivory and whale bone pieces currently on display across Scotland.
The Lewis Chessmen were discovered in the vicinity of Uig on the western shore of the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, in 1831, as part of a hoard of walrus ivory. The hoard includes assembled pieces made of whale bone and walrus ivory from at least four chess sets, probably made in Norway in the late 12th or early 13th century; these are some of the largest and finest group of early chessmen to survive. It is possible that they once belonged to a merchant travelling from Norway to Ireland.
Eighty-two of the 93 surviving pieces are currently housed at the British Museum in London, with the remaining 11 cared for by National Museums Scotland. However, more than 30 pieces from both London and Edinburgh are currently on tour at various locations throughout Scotland until September 2011. For more information on the chessmen and where you can find them, visit www.nms.ac.uk.