The worlds most well known, and beloved chess set, the Lewis Chessmen are a collection of figurines found on the Isle of Lewis, in the Scottish Hebrides, in 1831. Immediately taken to Glasgow to be displayed, they were then given a home in 2 prominent museums. Eleven of the pieces stayed in Scotland, at the National Museum of Scotland, and the remaining 82 pieces went to England, to be housed in the British Museum.
The pieces are believed to be of either Icelandic or Norwegian origin (there are different scholarly arguments as to which), and have been dated to originating after 1150 AD, but before 1200 AD. This is determined, interestingly, by the mitre (or hat) of the Bishops. This distinctively shaped hat has changed positions, and styles, and due to the records of the Catholic Church, it is undisputed that the Chess set originated during this time period. That is assuming, of course, that the pieces were carved to reflect the current times, and not times past.
Carved from walrus tusks and whale teeth, the pieces are breathtakingly beautiful. The intricate details, and delicate craftsmanship could only originate in the hands of a true master. Even more amazing is that this workmanship has stood the test of time, being buried for centuries in a sandbank, yet emerged relatively untouched by the elements, or the hands of time.
Although there are many different depictions of the characters in the chess game represented, the most well known is the Berserker piece, which is used as a rook (or castle). This is a wild eyed, toothy warrior biting his shield, which references the legendary Berserkers of Scandinavian origin, frenzied warriors who were thought to be almost inhuman in their ferocity and frenzied battle actions.
The Chess Guild is pleased, and proud, to offer this unique piece of history. When you bring this set into your home or professional setting, you are bringing history back to life, and literally holding history in your hands. You are connected, by these miniature works of art, to the Kings, Bishops, and Knights of medieval time, as you make the same moves they did, with replicas of the same pieces they used, playing the same game, Chess.