Lewis Chessmen on Display at National Museum of Scotland

Over 30 chess pieces from the National Museums Scotland and British Museum are starting a tour at National Museum of Scotland on 21 May and will continue to further Scottish venues.

The chess pieces consist of elaborately worked walrus ivory and whales’ teeth in the forms of seated kings and queens, mitred bishops, knights on their mounts, standing warders and pawns in the shape of obelisks.

They were found in the vicinity of Uig on the Isle of Lewis in mysterious circumstances. Various stories have evolved to explain why they were concealed there, and how they were discovered. All that is certain is that they were found some time before 11 April 1831, when they were exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries at Scotland. The precise findspot seems to have been a sand dune where they may have been placed in a small, drystone chamber.

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