Museum nan Eilean (Stornoway)
The Lewis Chess Pieces
The Lewis chess pieces - described as "the greatest chessmen of the European Middle Ages" - were discovered in the spring of 1831 by Malcolm Macleod of Penny Donald, Uig, in the sand dunes of Uig Bay.
In all seventy eight chess pieces are known, together with fourteen gaming pieces and a finely carved belt buckle found together with them. Malcolm Macleod sold the pieces on to a Stornoway merchant, Roderick Ryrie or Pyrie and by April 1831, eighty two of these had been purchased by the British Museum. Later in the century, eleven pieces were acquired by the National Museums of Scotland.
The chesspicces were made in the late 12th century - perhaps in the area of Trondheim, Norway carved from Walrus ivory. The hoard was perhaps originally the possession of a Norwegian merchant seeking sales in Lewis and lost in circumstances we shall never know.