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History Of Chess

The Lewis Chessmen, probably made in Norway, about AD 1150-1200. At this period, the Western Isles, where the chessmen were buried, were part of the Kingdom of Norway, not Scotland. It seems likely they were buried for safe keeping on route to be traded in Ireland.

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Lewis Chessmen Berserker: according to Old Norse literature, berserkers were notorious as fighting uncontrollably in a trance like state. Notice how our Berserker has bulging staring eyes and angrily bites his shield ready for action!

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Chess board, 15th century (ivory), Italian School, (15th century) / Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK / The Bridgeman Art Library

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The viking Hnefatafl gaming board found on the Brough of Deerness this summer. (The Orcadian/Orkney Media Group)

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Queen Playing Chess, detail of 15th century German tapestry, manufacture of the Upper Rhine, 1460-70

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The National History of Iceland contains many unique relics, including this wonderful set of pieces for the Viking version of chess.

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