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UigChessmen SelectionOfKings.jpg


The Lewis chessmen (alternatively the Uig chessmen) compose a complete chess set thought to date to the High Middle Ages, and most probably the 12th century of the Common Era. Carved principally of walrus ivory—four pieces are fashioned from whale teeth—the pieces are believed to have been made in Norway, perhaps by craftsmen in Trondheim, and to have been transported from Norway to the Hebrides, on the Isle of Lewis of which the chessmen were found in 1831, having been covered by sand in the Bay of Uig. The total cache, comprising eight kings (two pictured at left), eight queens (two pictured at left), sixteen bishops, fifteen knights, twelve rooks, and nineteen pawns, was first exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, whence they devolved on a private antiquities collector, who ultimately donated the collection to the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, where it resides. The kings, queens, bishops, knights (on horseback carrying swords and shields) and rooks (as bellicose berserkers) are shown as human figures, generally with visages of gloom whilst the pawns are small, tower-shaped figures perhaps intended to resemble gravestones.

UigChessmen SelectionOfPieces.jpg
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