Monday, 28 January 2008

Lewis Chessmen

It was suggested by the Western Isles MP that the famous Lewis Chessmen should be returned to this island. This was rejected by the UK culture minister, who referred to the idea as nonsensical, alongside with a gibe at the Scottish Government.

The Lewis Chessmen were discovered in the sands of Uig Bay in the 19th century. They had been carved by visiting Vikings some 850 years ago, and left there for safekeeping. The Chessmen, now reproduced on a larger scale (like the one shown above at Ardroil) are thought to have been brought over from Norway.

It is a pity this idea has foundered in a sea of party-political bickering. Although the figurines do not originate here, they have been here a long time and were found in Lewis. An idea might be to keep a handful of the Chessmen in Western Isles Museum, to acknowledge their final provenance. But I somehow don't think that will happen.


  1. "Why accept that this wonderful reminder of the long ties between Scandinavia and the Western Islands should not be returned to the place of their discovery, or at any rate nearby? If you can fight wind farm decisions then you don't need to be a pawn in this game. Best of luck!"

    Barney from Swithiod chessed off

    "The powers that be seem to advance what to me are rather spurious arguments for holding on to the chessmen. Firstly they aver that by repatriating the chessmen they would encourage other countries to demand the return of various other treasures, ignoring the fact that when I last looked the Western Isles were still part of the UK. Secondly, and this applies equally to the St. Ninian's Isle silver, they claim that the treasure would not be adequately curated. One only has to look at the new Shetland Museum to give the lie to that. Lastly the there are a number of duplicated figures in the chessmen so it would not be unreasonable to retain these at national level whilst returning the majority to the Isles."

    Hyper-Borean from By the Board

    "Elgin Marbles..."

    Flying Cat from trying not to lose mine

    "I don't see Bobby Fischer anywhere ..."

    mjc from NM,USA

  2. Nice post, I am currently writing an article on this topic. If you do not have an objection I might borrow a snippet.