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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Medieval Chess Pieces Discovered in UK Excavations

Hello chess blog friends, isn't it awesome that chess and chess players have always been there throughout history? We found this cool news story by BBC -- Archaeologists have found two Medieval horn and antler chess pieces during the final stages of a dig in Northampton town centre. The excavation is at St John's Street, at the location of Northamptonshire County Council's new £43m headquarters.

Archaeologist Jim Brown said the pieces were "clear evidence" of demand for a "leisure product" in middle to late 12th Century Northampton.

The dig has now been completed and the finds will eventually go on display.

The larger piece was probably intended to be a bishop and is 60mm (2.3in) high, while the second piece was the top part of a king and is about 30mm (1.2in) high.

Mr Brown, from the Museum of London Archaeology, said the chess pieces were found among bone and horn off-cuts, and appear to been discarded during their manufacture. The site was surveyed before building work can begin on a new council headquarters. He said: "They provide us with clear evidence of horn and bone working in the town, making something which is effectively a leisure product.

"It took quite a lot of effort to hand carve and finish these kind of things, so it's going to be something that you're paying the craftsman for.

"It's almost certain we will publish something about this material as it's of interest to researchers looking into history of board games."

The dig has previously uncovered malting ovens, fragments of cloth and a bread oven.

Work constructing the council headquarters begins in January. Read further at the BBC website.

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