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There are many unconfirmed stories telling how the Lewis chess pieces were found. These range from a local man discovering them while chasing a cow, to dramatic stories involving death-bed confessions of murder and theft from a seaman who was observed jumping ship.
What is clear it that they were buried at some point. It was here in 1831 at Ardroil near Uig Sands (a beautiful beach west of Callanish) that high tide exposed a cave or small, stone-built chamber which the eroding sand had exposed. The treasure within was an assembly of 78 chessmen, probably the finest early chess pieces in the world, carved from morse ivory, the fossil remains of walrus tusks.
Believed to be carved between AD 1150-1170, the Lewis Chessmen represent a possible Norse origin and the most complete collection of ancient chessmen in existence today. At that time, the Outer Hebrides were an important part of the Viking world and there was regular sea traffic between Lewis, Iceland and Scandinavia.
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