Within the context of this unparalleled collection, the Lewis Chessmen are an important symbol of European civilisation. Each year millions of visitors, free of charge, admire the chessmen at the British Museum and they are frequently loaned for display in museums across the country and across the globe.
They were probably made in Norway, about AD 1150- 1200. At this period, the Western Isles, where the chess pieces 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.
The chess pieces 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.
Of the 93 pieces known to us today, 11 pieces are in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland, and 82 are in the British Museum. The chess pieces consist 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.
This object is part of "Scan The World". Scan the World is a non-profit initiative introduced by MyMiniFactory, through which we are creating a digital archive of fully 3D printable sculptures, artworks and landmarks from across the globe for the public to access for free. Scan the World is an open source, community effort, if you have interesting items around you and would like to contribute, email [email protected] to find out how you can help.
Scanned : Photogrammetry (Processed using Agisoft PhotoScan)