Isle of Lewis Chess Pieces
The British Museum in London has agreed to return some of the world’s most famous chess pieces to Scotland. The Museum will lend the National Museum of Scotland a substantial number of the 82 Lewis Chessmen pieces it holds on a temporary basis.
In total, 93 pieces, carved out of walrus ivory and whales’ teeth, were discovered on a beach near Uig in 1831. They depict kings, queens, bishops, mounted knights, standing warders and obelisk-shaped pawns.
The pieces – 24 from the British Museum in London and six from National Museums Scotland – will be put on display in Aberdeen Art Gallery from October 7, 2010, to January 8, 2011.
They will be on display at Shetland Museum and Archives – chosen due to its Nordic roots as the chessmen are thought to have been made in Norway – from January 29, 2011, to March 27, 2011. Stornoway residents will see them at Museum nan Eilean from April 15, 2011, until September 12, 2011.
The Scottish Government is spending £75,000 to ensure people have free access to the exhibitions. Culture Minister Mike Russell said: “The chessmen reflect the strong cultural and political links between Scotland and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages and the growing popularity of chess in Europe.”
Thought to have been made in Norway between 1150-1200, the pieces are carved out of walrus ivory and whales’ teeth and were discovered on a beach near Uig in 1831. They depict seated kings, queens, mitred bishops, mounted knights, standing warders and obelisk-shaped pawns.
The British Museum lent some of the Lewis Chessmen to Museum Nan Eilean at Stornoway in 1995. The pieces, which were used as a model for a scene in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, have been also been lent to museums in Britain, Europe and Asia.
Want your own Isle of Lewis Chess Set? Take a look at the Isle of Lewis at ChessCentral