By Nancy Marie Brown
In the early 1800's, on a Hebridean seashore in Scotland, the ocean uncovered an old treasure cache: ninety three chessmen carved from walrus ivory. Norse netsuke, every one face person, every one packed with quirks, the Lewis Chessmen are the most recognized 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 cherished 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 smooth archaeology, artwork background, forensics, and the heritage of board video games. within the procedure, Ivory Vikings provides a bright historical past of the four hundred years whilst the Vikings governed the North Atlantic, and the sea-road hooked up international locations and islands we expect of as some distance aside and culturally unique: Norway and Scotland, eire and Iceland, and Greenland and North the United States. 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 an awfully gifted girl artist of the 12th century: Margret the Adroit of Iceland.
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Extra info for Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them
A gaggle of Norwegian merchants—impressed through the Greenlanders’ luxurious wares—decided to accompany Bishop Arnald to his new put up. At sea, the 2 ships acquired separated. Bishop Arnald landed in Iceland and spent the iciness at Oddi with Saemund the clever. whilst he arrived in Greenland the subsequent summer season, there has been no note of the service provider send. It used to be later came across wrecked, its group lifeless. The Greenlanders, with the bishop’s blessing, cut up the shipment. Then one of many service provider captain’s kinsmen arrived in Greenland, in approximately 1133, searching for his inheritance. within the resulting feud, numerous males have been killed. The Icelander Hermund Kodransson—the great-uncle of Pall’s spouse, Herdis—was referred to as in as a impartial celebration to barter a truce among the Greenlanders and the Norwegians. he's pointed out as a dealer facing Greenland’s Western payment, the place, archaeologists have chanced on, each farm had an individual assigned to chip the tusks from walrus skulls. Hermund’s domestic in Iceland was once at the river Hvita within the West zone. The Hvita had a superb harbor for oceangoing ships close to the chieftain’s property at Borg the place, in approximately 1202, a service provider send from the Orkney Islands landed. Its captain, Thorkel Walrus, was once the nephew of Bishop Bjarni of Orkney, a great buddy of Pall Jonsson’s. Walruses don't reside within the Orkneys; Thorkel’s nickname refers back to the items he traded in. in this stopover at, he was once promoting flour and malt from the Orkney Islands and doubtless looking at buying walrus tusks from Greenland. because his final journey, notwithstanding, there’d been a transformation of management at Borg. the recent chieftain and harbormaster used to be Pall’s twenty-four-year-old foster brother, Snorri Sturluson. while Thorkel and Snorri had a deadly false impression over the cost of flour, Thorkel, having killed Snorri’s foreman, fled to Oddi. There Saemund Jonsson, Pall’s half-brother, took him in and guarded him from Snorri’s vengeance. Saemund, too, had powerful ties to the Orkney Islands. 20 years earlier than, he have been betrothed to the daughter of Earl Harald. the marriage plans fell via whilst the earl and Saemund’s father, Jon Loftsson, the uncrowned king of Iceland, did not agree on who may still carry the dinner party (and who could be inconvenienced via crusing to it). The sagas show many different hyperlinks among Greenland, Iceland, and the Orkney Islands. Thirty years after Thorkel Walrus’s stopover at, for example, one other Orkney send landed at Borg, captained via Thorkel’s cousin. service provider ships within the modern Sagas are pointed out for 2 purposes: They sink, or their crews reason difficulty. those recommend the Orkney-to-Borg path was once good traveled for a few years. The Iceland-to-Greenland leg of this sea street started simply north of Borg, on the tip of a protracted peninsula with a sought after landmark: a towering glacier-capped cone. From there, Greenland was once a 4 days’ sail due west. a boat owned via the bishop of Greenland sank simply south of this peninsula, it sounds as if on its option to Borg, in approximately 1266, strewing walrus tusks up and down the coast; tusks have been nonetheless being present in the 17th century, while an account of the destroy used to be written.