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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Viking Chess Players' Statue to Find New Home in Isle of Man

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,

Here is an interesting chess tale - about where the chess statue of ancient Viking chess players is to be stationed! The Ramsey town centre is being renovated in Isle of Man. The Regeneration Committee wants to set up public art items in the revamped areas, in particular the Courthouse grounds on Parliament Street.

The present regeneration works include the addition of public seating and an outdoor chess table. The committee, being aware of the statue of King Olaf and Godred Crovan located in the Town Hall have asked whether Ramsey Town Commissioners would consider whether this could be relocated and placed near to the outdoor chess table within the Courthouse grounds, on the basis that the statue would be much more visible to visitors and the public and might be an additional attraction in the newly refurbished area.

The statue depicts the ancient kings locked in a chess-like contest, and was commissioned from local artist Amanda Barton as a Millennium project for the town. At the time of commissioning a permanent location had to be found and it ultimately was placed in the Town Hall foyer on a raised plinth.

It is understood that the statue is suitable for external locations although it would need to be carefully located and secured. At the December public meeting, Ramsey Town Commissioners expressed their support for the move, noting that the statue is not shown off to its best potential in its current location, and that the similarly-constructed George Formby and Norman Wisdom statues in Douglas had so far survived outdoor life intact.
The statue itself is notable for its symbolism and multiple hidden meanings, featuring two major figures from Manx history.
King Godred Crovan, or King Orry, is the father of his opponent in the statue, Olav I.

While the war-like Crovan – a Norseman born in the Isle of Islay – conquered the Isle of Man at the third attempt at the Battle of Skye Hill in 1079, his son had a reputation as a man of peace and law, and during his 40 year reign over Mann founded Rushen Abbey.

The two characters apparently play an innocent game of chess.

King Olaf appears to be playing classical chess whilst his father, leaning across the board, plays the game as if it were the more aggressive ancient Viking game of merels, symbolising the move from old ways to new.

The commissioners added that if the statue were to be moved to form a prominent part of the regeneration area, it would only happen after investigating the logistics of moving it, and its current plinth. You can read the original story by Lee Brooks at this link.

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