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Isle of Lewis Chess Sets

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The Oldest Chess Set in the Western World

The Isle Of Lewis Chess Set has legendary status and is probably the second most recognisable set of iconic chess pieces after Staunton. They gained their name from the isle of Lewis in Scotland. On a fateful day in 1831 they were discovered buried in a chest when a sand bank collapsed. It is thought that the Lewis chessmen were carved from Walrus Ivory and were actually made in Norway hundreds of years before they were re discovered. The story of how these amazing chessmen were created, lost for hundreds of years and then found again is a fascinating one. There still remains much debate about the true origins of the set and who it belongs to. Currently the original pieces are split between the National Museum Scotland and the British Museum. So they have remained on British shores. In fact both museums have become quite an authority on the pieces and have produced some amazingly accurate sets that are for sale here at Regency Chess

Mini Isle Of Lewis Chess Set

The SAC Mini Isle of Lewis Chess Set is available with fast and free shipping from UK stock. These lovely little chessmen are a superb example of the Lewis chess pieces. Due to the proportions of the Lewis chessmen it's often the case that they sets are very large when combined with a board. For those with limited space these mini versions are ideal. We also sell them combined with a chess board for the completed look.

Lewis Chessmen

There is little doubt the the Lewis Chessmen are one of the worlds most iconic design of chess piece. They are shrouded in mystery and wonder and have an incredible back story behind them. Not only do they have an incredible story to tell, but the design is absolutely fantastic too. It's worth noting that over a hundred pieces were discovered and a selection was made from these to create various different chess sets. This is why there are a few variants of Lewis chess pieces in circulation. There is little doubt that the Lewis chessmen have become one of the most iconic and popular designs of chess set in the world, second only to Staunton. They are certainly our second largest selling set!

National Museum Scotland Isle of Lewis chess sets

Over the years that we’ve been trading we have sold many different brands of Lewis chess set, there is however little doubt about who produces the very best set on the market. The product team at the National Museum Scotland have produced a range of Lewis chess sets that are without doubt the best we have seen.

One of the things that makes their Lewis sets so good is the accuracy, they are lovingly crafted in the United Kingdom from laser scans of the actual original pieces. Where as all other Lewis sets in production are essentially copies of the originals, albeit some are extremely good, the museum sets are as close as you’ll ever get to the real thing.

The other amazing thing about the official museum sets is how they are packaged. They come in superb gifted box packaging with an extreme level of presentation which makes them the ideal gift.

We have taken the Lewis chessmen from these sets and combined them with some of the worlds finest chess boards to create some of the very best Lewis chess sets on the market. If you’re looking for a heritage set that will last for decades then we are sure to have something for you.

Isle of lewis chess set british museum

It would only be fair to mention the other major museum that produces excellent sets of Lewis chess pieces. The British Muesum is another major authority on the subject of Lewis chess pieces, they have many of the actual pieces in their possession. We are delighted to be retailing one of their sets alongside the rest of our comprehensive range. The British Museum chess set is a replica of the famous Lewis chessmen, some of which are on display in their museum. It means those wanting to see the original pieces can either visit London or Scotland, both at opposite ends of the country and hundreds of miles apart.

lewis chessmen stornoway

The Lewis chessmen have had many names over the years. By far the most popular name is 'Lewis' but they have been called 'The Uig chessmen'. All of these names relate to the place where the set was found in the early to mid 1800s. Uig and Stornoway are both places on the Isle of Lewis, Stornoway being the closest town and Uig being the general name for the area. These mystical figures are also known as the Viking chess pieces which has been a source of debate over the years. It's thought that the original pieces were actually made in Norway hundreds of years before they were unearthed in Lewis. Some people believe that the pieces should be returned to their native land and have less association with their place of re discovery.

Lewisman Chess Set

The term Lewisman is an odd one for the Lewis chess pieces, but the very characterful nature of these chessmen makes it a useable term. Many of the pieces have a very human face, albeit in a slightly impressionist vein. The expressions on their faces are very telling and each one has a clear personality and character. The Lewis chessmen, or Lewismen are by far some of the most iconic and amazing chess pieces the world has known.

Chess Set Lewis FAQs

Was there ever a Lewis chess board?

No, there was never a board discovered with the chessmen. The Lewis chess set term refers entirely to the pieces rather than any board. We have paired the chessmen with a selection of fine chess boards in order to create complete chess sets from them.

Are the Lewis chess sets the same size as the original pieces?

No, the Lewis chess sets that are commercially available are always smaller than the actual artifacts. This is because of the size of the board required. Even our 3.25 inch Lewis chessmen require a chess board that is almost two foot across, that’s 60 centimetres. So if the pieces were enlarged to the size of the originals a huge board would be needed, which would be just too big to use or display in the average home.

What are the Lewis chessmen made from?

There are two parts to this answer. The original artifacts were made from either bone or tusk which is obviously not suitable for mass produced pieces. So all of the Lewis chessmen we sell are made from a crushed stone resin. This process involves using powdered stone mixed with a resin and then poured into a mould. The pieces are then polished. The colouring is added to the resin mixture rather than applied after which gives a solid continual finish.

Why do some Lewis chess sets have different pieces compared to other sets?

The reason is that when the original Lewis chessmen were found. There were more pieces than a standard chess set. In fact, it’s fair to say that the original pieces were not created as a chess set. So, there are quite a lot of different pieces to choose from when selecting some to make a chess set. Generally, the king and Queen are obvious choices but some of the other pieces often get swapped out for other versions. We think our sets represent the best combination of the original pieces.

How much are the original Lewis pieces worth?

That’s a difficult question. Recently a piece changed hands for a million pounds. All of the original pieces sit in a museum, and one could argue they are priceless. They certainly aren’t for sale.

Viking Chess Set

The Isle of Lewis Chess Set is the ultimate Viking Chess Set. The name may be confusing, as it bears no relation to the Nordic origins of this amazing set. It is thought that the Vikings created the set in the 12th century but the name and it's main association has become linked to the Scottish Isle where it was discovered in the Victorian era. We have a superb range of these viking chess sets for sale with crushed stone pieces and a selection of different chess boards.


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