On the Lewis Chessmen

For March I’m planning a trip to New York City. I put my vacation request in yesterday for a few days in the middle of the month.

The Lewis Chessmen are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through early April, and they’re something I would very much like to see while they’re on this side of the Atlantic.

While I’m a terrible chess player, I’m fascinated by the artistry and history of chess.  Several years ago I plotted out a Doctor Who novel that contained a scene with chess-playing Vikings.  I have one chess set (a Lord of the Rings chess set), intend to acquire at least two more in the coming months (a Doctor Who set and Eaglemoss’ DC Comics chess set), and have given serious thought to tracking down the vintage Franklin Mint Star Trek 3-D chess set made about twenty years ago.  The Lewis Chessmen, then, are precisely the sort of thing that would captivate me.

What are they, then?  From memory the Lewis Chessmen are a more than complete set of chesspieces, in white and red instead of the modern white and black, carved from ivory by unknown Norsemen in the 13th-century (or was it the 11th?) which were discovered buried in the sand of an island off the coast of Scotland a century and a half ago. The chessmen are displayed at the British Museum and they are presently on loan to the Met.

Naturally, this is the very sort of thing that interests me. History! The Norse!  Chess!

And since they’re on this continent through April, I intend to go see them. 🙂

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