The Isle of Lewis Chess Pieces

The Isle of Lewis Chessmen

In 1831, the sea carried away a sandbank on the Isle of Lewis uncovering a building that had been buried in the sand.  In the building a peasant found what he thought was a collection of ivory elves and gnomes.  The superstitious Highlander fled for home in horror, but his wife encouraged him to return to the site and bring the figures home.  He sold them to a local collector who realised they were chessmen.  There were 78 pieces in all, belonging to eight or more sets.  67 of these pieces are now in the British Museum and the rest in the National Museum of Edinburgh.  Notice the familiarity?

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