ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Isle of Lewis Chessmen: Official Chess Set

Updated on August 14, 2015

What a great gift for the chess player

Or for an art-lover. Or for an historian. The Isle of Lewis Chessmen are fascinating for any number of reasons and this official set, featuring faithful replicas of the original pieces, makes a wonderful gift - or even a treat for yourself. It also looks so attractive in the home, especially in your study or library.

My brother, the chess master

I gave this set to my brother last year on his birthday. When he was a boy, my dad taught him to play chess and he loved it. I was (and still am, of course) six years older than my baby brother and I admit that chess was pretty boring for me after half an hour or so. Hey, I was fourteen - I had other things to do at that age.

Next generation

So last year, my brother told me that he was teaching his own son to play chess and the lad apparently is following in his father's footsteps because he really enjoys the game too. The problem was though, that they had a cheap, plastic chess set and I think the game deserves something more stylish.

It had to be this one

Both my brother and I are British and living in the States and I thought it would be a great idea if I could find a British-made set for him. I thought that something traditional would be wonderful. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered seeing part of a medieval chess set in the British Museum. I remembered some story that they had been discovered in the middle of the nineteenth century in a medieval grave in a remote Scotland island ... by a cow. (Actually, the cow story was later disproved - but I liked it).

Leaving the cow story aside

It is true that the original chessmen, probably made in Norway and mostly from walrus ivory, were discovered in a remote area of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland and are thought to date from the twelfth century.

The National Museum of Scotland

This organization, along with the British Museum in London, is home to these chess pieces and these chessmen are official in that they are sold by the museum and created from laser scans taken from the originals.

And they make me laugh

See the photographs below - the chess pieces are almost like cartoons.

In fact, in the 1960s there was a children's cartoon on British television called Noggin the Nog and the characters were based on the Lewis chessmen - and yes, my brother loved the gift!

Additional ideas and benefits

These make such a wonderful gift for a special person. It is this type of product that will become a family heirloom and be passed down through the generations.

These are truly a piece of history.The fact that they come from the British Museum also creates a certain caché that you just wouldn't find with most other gift ideas. They are so beautifully presented, too.

Luckily, they can be ordered online and delivered to anywhere in the world - the British Museum's superior products are no longer available just for those who live in the United Kingdom. Now, they are available for all.

This is a fascinating full-length documentary about the pieces - see them as they are today on display in London. The detail is amazing. If you're buying this chess set as a gift, you can discover some amazing facts in this video that your recipient will enjoy.

The video below is part one - part two should show up in the related videos at the end.

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size

© 2013 Jackie Jackson


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 

      5 years ago from US/TN

      Those are neat! I used to play chess as a teen but I haven't played it in ages.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @lesliesinclair: Curious because they are my favorites too. It's a lovely set with such a wonderful story behind it.

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      5 years ago

      My favorites are the figures with a hand on their face. Such detailed carving with such variety of expression and appearance. I've been thinking lately about learning to play chess.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Coffee-Break: Gorgeous, isn't it? And such a wonderful history.

    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 

      5 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      That is a beautiful chess set. I love how the pawns are actually tombstones.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @sousababy: Thank you.They are really gorgeous and have a wonderful story behind them.

    • sousababy profile image


      5 years ago

      One thing about chess sets - they never go out of style. Great review!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      A beautiful set! I'd love one just for my self


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)