The Lewis Chessmen

Storm clouds roll in across Lerwick Harbour

This time last week I was in Shetland on the final leg of the Discovery Film Festival Road Show, presenting a CPD session on Moving Image Education with a number of local teachers, and preparing to brace myself against the hurricane-force winds which were about to batter the islands later that night. The weather was so severe in fact that a number of children who were due to come from the neighbouring Bressay to our screening of The Secret of Kells on Friday morning were unable to come when their small ferry was cancelled.

Some of the famous Lewis Chessmen

Despite the weather we had a great time, and I also took the opportunity to have a look around the Lewis Chessmen Unmasked exhibition which is currently in the Shetland Museum until the end of March when, appropriately, it moves on to Stornoway on Lewis.  One of the most significant and iconic archaological finds ever in Scotland, the beautifully crafted chess pieces were carved from walrus tusks and whale teeth, probably in or around Trondheim in Norway in the 12th Century. How they came to be lost and subsequently re-found on the west coast of Lewis, and what has happened to them since, is as good a real-life detective story as you will find anywhere. The Lewis Chessmen Unmasked website is also beautifully crafted and has loads of great activities for children and teachers. Go there and immerse yourself in the story now.

Read more from me on The Lewis Chessmen here.

Watch a trailer for the beautiful animation The Secret of Kells and find some excellent classroom activities here.

You can buy a replica set of the Lewis Chessman here.


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