By Nancy Marie Brown
In the early 1800's, on a Hebridean seashore in Scotland, the ocean uncovered an historical treasure cache: ninety three chessmen carved from walrus ivory. Norse netsuke, each one face person, each one choked with quirks, the Lewis Chessmen are the most well-known chess items on this planet. Harry performed Wizard's Chess with them in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Housed on the British Museum, they're between its so much visited and loved objects.
Questions abounded: Who carved them? the place? Nancy Marie Brown's Ivory Vikings explores those mysteries by way of connecting medieval Icelandic sagas with glossy archaeology, paintings background, forensics, and the historical past of board video games. within the method, Ivory Vikings offers a bright heritage of the four hundred years while the Vikings governed the North Atlantic, and the sea-road hooked up nations and islands we predict of as some distance aside and culturally particular: Norway and Scotland, eire and Iceland, and Greenland and North the USA. the tale of the Lewis chessmen explains the commercial entice at the back of the Viking voyages to the west within the 800s and 900s. and eventually, it brings from the shadows a very gifted girl artist of the 12th century: Margret the Adroit of Iceland.
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Additional resources for Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them
The lid has been cracked through fireplace, possibly via the inferno of 1309, yet in a different way the coffin exhibits little harm. at the day in 1954 whilst the lid used to be first lifted, executive ministers, lecturers, priests, and the clicking accrued at the hillside. The archaeologists gave a few phrases of creation, a clergyman sang Te Deum—and then the heavens opened and the rain drummed down. It was once whatever the participants—and these looking at later, on television—never forgot, for a similar factor had occurred, in line with the Saga of Bishop Pall, whilst Pall used to be first buried: The heavens wept. Resting at the correct shoulder of the skeleton used to be the criminal of a bishop’s crozier carved from walrus ivory. No gold ring used to be discovered on Pall’s finger, or indicators of the other episcopal regalia, with the exception of one silver thread. but heaped over his ft, unusually, used to be a pile of burned bones combined with droplets of lead and glass—possibly the is still of stained glass home windows and the bones of alternative dignitaries who were laid to leisure in wood shrines within the chapel on the base of the bell tower. whilst the church burned in 1309, Pall’s sarcophagus could have been the single coffin to outlive, and the opposite holy continues to be have been swept into it earlier than it was once safe additional via being sunk underneath the ground of the rebuilt church—for stone tombs weren't intended to be buried, as Pall may have identified from his visits to cathedrals out of the country. His sarcophagus wouldn't have been the place they discovered it in 1954 yet sitting, noticeable, at the flooring of the bell tower. In 2012, any query that the skeleton used to be now not that of Pall Jonsson used to be positioned to relaxation by means of carbon relationship, which dated a bone pattern to among 1165 and 1220. The researchers, who have been engaged in a multinational learn of Viking and medieval meals, didn't learn and date Pall’s ivory crozier. They have been basically attracted to human is still. The Crozier Margret the Adroit might have remained a colourful aspect in a little-read saga if the Icelanders had no longer determined to construct that new, sleek church at Skalholt—and referred to as first for an archaeological excavation. The life of Pall’s sarcophagus vouches for the general fact of the Saga of Bishop Pall. The ivory crozier came upon inside of it calls to brain the only Margret carved out of walrus tusk, the saga says, “so skillfully that nobody in Iceland had noticeable such artistry ahead of. ” The crozier defined not exists, as far as we all know: Pall commissioned it for Thorir, who turned archbishop of Trondheim in 1205, and supposedly despatched it to him in Norway. yet many specialists characteristic the crozier came upon in Bishop Pall’s sarcophagus to Margret. a few characteristic a moment twelfth-century crozier, now within the Danish nationwide Museum in Copenhagen, to Margret to boot. This crozier was once came across in 1926 within the grave of a bishop in Greenland. established partially at the crozier’s Romanesque layout, the archaeologist pointed out the skeleton as Bishop Jon Smyrill, who spent the iciness of 1203 with Bishop Pall at Skalholt and taught him to make communion wine from crowberries, following a recipe from King Sverrir of Norway.