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Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Lewis Chessmen and their story

The Lewis Chessmen

Hi Everybody,

In this interesting article we found on the Internet, Shenk writes about how he went to see the Lewis chessmen in Edinburgh's National Museum of Scotland.

He writes, "They are 78 figurines, comprising four not-quite-complete chess sets, hand-carved from walrus tusk and whale teeth near Trondheim, Norway around 1150, but discovered seven hundred miles away in 1831 in the Bay of Uig on the Scottish Isle of Lewis. They are spectacular."

Here is also an excerpt from his book:
"At the base of a fifteen-foot sandbank near the south shore of the Bay of Uig, the inte¬rior was somehow exposed, and with it a nearly seven-hundred-year-old crypt. Our unwitting archaeologist stumbled into an ancient and cramped drystone room, six feet or so long and shaped like a beehive, with ashes strewn on the floor. The tiny room was filled, impossibly, with dozens of shrunken people: tiny lifelike statuettes, three to four and a half inches high, some stained beet-red and the rest left a natural off-white. The long hair, contoured faces, and proportionate bodies were eerily vivid, even animated, with wide-eyed, expectant expressions, battle-ready stances, and a full complement of medieval combat equipment and apparel. Hand-carved from walrus tusk and whale teeth, they wore tiny crowns, mitres, and helmets; held miniature swords, shields, spears, and bishop's crosiers; some rode warhorses."

You can read the full article here. You can also read about the Lewis Chessmen at this wikipedia page.

Meanwhile, we also have a video of the Lewis Chessmen exhibition that opened in May, 2010.

And, another imaginative video of the Lewis Chessmen at the British Museum!

P.S. If any of you attended the touring exhibition do tell us about it.

From Alexandra Kosteniuk's
Also see her personal blog at


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