"I love this chess set for its authenticity and luxury. Every time I play chess with my family it makes me think how special our trips to the museum have been." – Jonathan, e-Commerce Manager
This premium Lewis Chess set has a high quality wooden board, and is an authentic replica of one of the British Museum's most iconic pieces.
Each chess piece is a true-to-size reproduction of the 12th century, hand-crafted originals, which consisted of elaborately worked walrus ivory and whales' teeth in the forms of seated kings and queens, bishops, knights on their mounts, standing warders and pawns in the shape of obelisks.
A remarkable home ornament or gift.
About the Originals
The Lewis Chessmen form a remarkable group of iconic objects within the world collection of the British Museum. They were 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 is possible that they belonged to a merchant travelling from Norway and that they were buried for safe- keeping on route to be traded in Ireland. This seems likely since there are enough pieces - though with some elements missing – to make four sets.
No exact account of the discovery remains, but they apparently came to light after the collapse of a sand- bank on the coast of the island revealed their hiding place to a passing islander.
The chessmen testify to the strong cultural and political connections between Britain and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages, and to the growing popularity within Europe of the game of chess, the origins of which lie in ancient India.
93 pieces from the hoard are known today. They date from the mid to late 12th century, and the style of carving, especially the intricate interlocking animal and floral designs on the thrones of the seated figures, indicate that they are of Scandinavian workmanship; however, their exact origin is not certain and they may have been made in Britain by a craftsman skilled in this style of Viking art. The British Museum bought 67 of the chessmen towards the end of 1831. The Museum now owns 82 of the 93 pieces.
Discover more about the Lewis Chess pieces here.