Lewis Chessmen Set

Play a game on a decorative chess set with a mysterious history.

Details

In 1831, a mysterious chess set was unearthed on Scotland's Isle of Lewis. Elaborately carved in walrus tusk and whale teeth and dating back to the 1100s, it was most likely buried by a merchant traveling from Norway to Ireland. This handsome replica set makes a thoughtful gift for any chess player or history buff.

Reviews

Overall: Show Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 5 reviews

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5 of 5 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5

    An Historic Gift - 12/12/2011
    By:

    Being a Lewis I have read about the discovery of the Isle of Lewis Chess Set(s) and have been intrigued. So, I finally broke down and ordered the replica set and was very pleased with both the detail of the chess pieces and quality of the board. I am delighted and have the set prominently displayed in my game room atop a very fine game table.

  • 5/5

    Quality, Great Price, A real Value - 8/6/2010
    By: from Denver, Colorado

    After shopping everywhere (and around the world on the net,) I decided to take a chance on this reasonably priced set. I was very pleased with detail and quality...I bought two sets and highly recommend it as a great value.

  • 5/5

    Chess bargain! - 3/16/2010
    By:

    Nothing can even come close to this great chess set, with detailed replica pieces that take you back centuries the minute you make your first move. They actually seem to be carved of ivory, Although you might try to convince yourself it is heavy grade cast resin. Even the board is a fine accessory that lends itself well to the game, being of heavy material and well-constructed.

  • 5/5

    Authentic Replicas! - 1/22/2010
    By: from Oregon

    Purchased these for my husband following a trip to Edinburgh and seeing some of the original pieces at the Royal Museum of Scotland, and learning that they were found on the Isle of Lewis - where his mum's people came from. They are museum quality, and feel heavy (good) in the hand. Excellent gift for a chess player or fan of Scottish history.

  • 5/5

    A Weasley Favorite - 1/21/2010
    By:

    This product is worth what you pay for it. The peices are brilliant replicas of the original chess sets. The board and figurines are intricate and detailed. The board is fairly large, and great for playing on. Also, the board and peices are felt lined so that they will not scratch the board or the surface that they are on. The peices also are heavy and of a genuine quality material-they aren't made of a flimsy plastic or anything. Owning one of these is like owning a timeless peice of Scottish history-it is a beautiful addition to anyone that enjoys the game, or just wants to make themselves look sophisticated.

Learn More

The Mystery of the Lewis Chessmen

The Lewis Chessmen setBelieved to have been crafted in Norway sometime in the 12th century, these remarkable chessmen were concealed in a Scottish sand dune for more than 600 years! Nothing is known about the maker, how they came to be buried on the Isle of Lewis in the remote Outer Hebrides, or exactly when they were discovered. All that is known for certain is that they were first exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland on April 11, 1831.

The Best-Preserved Historic Chess Set

The best-known set of medieval chess pieces, the hand-cast, hand-painted pieces are the best-preserved specimens in existence. Unearthed from a sand bank at the head of the Bay of Uig, no contemporary account exists to describe how or when they were discovered, but it is believed that they were found in a small, hand-built stone chamber about 15 feet below the top of the sand bank.

The Journey from Norway

While it isn’t known who owned the chess pieces or why they were hidden, the most prevalent theory is that they belonged to a merchant specializing in luxury goods who buried them for some unknown reason while traveling from Norway to Ireland. This seems a likely scenario, as there were enough pieces (with a few elements missing), to make up several complete sets.

Chess of the 1100s

Details of the Lewis ChessmenIn all 93 pieces were found. The largest collection of objects made purely for recreational purposes from the medieval period, the Lewis Chessmen are an invaluable art treasure. Carved from walrus ivory, some were stained red by soaking in wine or beetroot. No board was found with them, but because of the red pieces, it is thought that ancient boards may have been red and white instead of the modern black and white. The sets also include an element from early Scandinavian chess sets––an armed figure called a Warder, which has been replaced by Rook in modern sets. The remaining pieces are the mirror contemporary pieces but the King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, and Pawn all wear uniquely expressive Romanesque features and dress of the 1100s.

Of the 93 pieces known today, 11 are housed in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland, and 82 are in the British Museum in London. The set achieved new popularity after they were featured in the popular movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Buy it now

Select an item: SI1619
  • Chessmen and board (Not Available) $198.00 Sale: $149.00
  • Chessmen only (Not Available) $129.00 Sale: $109.00
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