Originally crafted from walrus ivory and whales teeth the iconic Isle of Lewis chess pieces were discovered in the vicinity of Uig on the Isle of Lewis some time before 11 April 1831. The precise location seems to have been a sand dune where they may have been placed in a small, dry stone chamber. The hoard which consisted of 78 chess pieces and 15 other artifacts was initially shown at the Scottish Antiquaries Society in Edinburgh which hoped to acquire it but was unsuccessful in its fundraising efforts. The British Museum eventually acquired it between November 1831 and January 1832.
The pieces were probably made in Trondheim, Norway, about AD 1150-1200. At this period, the Western Isles, where the chess pieces were found, 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 the kingdoms of the British Isles and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages, and to the growing popularity within Europe of the game of chess, the origins of which lie in India after around 500 BC. Chess arrived in Christian Europe via the Islamic world, where the game was adapted to reflect medieval European society. Of the ninety-three pieces of this hoard known to us today, eleven pieces are in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland, and eighty-two are in the British Museum.
The skilled craftsmen at Berkeley Chess have interpreted the iconic chess pieces to produce two magnificent chess sets which exemplify the majesty of the original sculptures. Both sets are manufactured ivory & brown, ivory & red and a unique pewter & copper finish.
- King Height: 3.5"
- King Base: 1 7/8"
- King Weight: 4.1oz
- Set Weight: 53.6oz (3lbs 5.6oz)
- Made of a ratio of crushed marble and resin, and then finished with a felt underlay
- 32 Pieces
- Boxed weight 4lbs 10oz
The board and box are handcrafted in Pennsylvania from locally sourced premium walnut and maple woods, it takes months from drying, curing, cutting, and assembly to the perfect multi-coat finish that gives it the luxurious and distinguished smooth surface.
The artist is from a Pennsylvania family with a rich heritage of woodworking and farming passed down through five generations originating in Switzerland. The lost art of woodworking is continually refined, blending timeless methods with the latest knowledge on living wood behavior. Wood is "living" after it is cut down, not a rigid block. Due to the circular ringed nature of a tree, the direction of cuts is very important to the natural expansion and contraction of the wood as humidity levels change from one environment to another. This unique expansion of both woods used in this work of art, require great attention in every phase of production.
The 21" square chess board with 2.25" squares and 3/4" thickness is ideally suited to standard 3 3/4" to 4 1/2" tall chess men with a base no larger than 2"