Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Returning

Almost 180 years after being found hidden in the  shifting sand dunes of Uig, six of the Lewis Chessmen returned 'home' just for a day. Of course, we had to head over and see them in situ.

I must apologise for the very blurry photographs, but they were the best I could do today.  I hope you are able to make out those doleful expressions. The Queen, King, Bishop, Warder and Knight are pictured above.  The King is pretty scary looking, sitting there with his sword across his knee.  The story of the Lewis Chessmen is very interesting, and the details can be found here - much better than any of my retelling.

The carving is beautiful - even the back of the pieces are richly decorated.  It was a good visit today - lots going on.  There were two Vikings in the museum, giving spindle and weaving demonstrations and telling stories of battles and bravery, and BBC Alba were recording some interviews.

James wasn't in the mood for that though - he wanted to go to the museum cafe for a bowl of their delicious homemade soup.

So, I had a pot of tea and, a slice of Victoria sponge cake - oops - just crumbs left, sorry!

So, since we were over there anyway, we decided to go on the couple of miles to the place where the chess set was originally found. It just happens to be one of our favourite beaches too :)

When we got there, we found these large arrows marked in the sand, pointing towards the dunes.  Was that a clue perhaps? Who knows.

One of the local Bards has written a poem to celebrate the return of the Chess pieces to their finding place.  It is just so beautiful, and you can read it here.  It is in Gaelic, but there is an English translation further down the page.


  1. What a beautiful poem....about the most beautifully carved chess pieces I have ever seen, from a very beautiful place in this world.
    James looked like he was really enjoying his soup, bless him, what a cutie he is.

  2. What a treasure to see that in person. I can't wait for my husband to get home to show him.
    James is like my guy's and their stomach's..food is what they are always thinking about :)xx

  3. So very fascinating, it is hard for me to comprehend the history of these pieces that you have shown me here, as NZ is such a young country.
    Oh, I would love to see the pieces myself ...and walk along that beach.

  4. Very, very cool Jacqui! You said it was the best you can do...was it the building or are you not feeling well? I hope it was the former and not the latter!!
    I'm always thinking about food too!
    Thanks for the squeezy cyber-hug! I'll take it!

  5. Ah no Meggs. It was the light inside the building, and the fact that the chessmen were in a glass case, so using flash was out.
    It is an amazing story and wonderful to see them. xx

  6. Fabulous to have a piece of island history back on the island. I recently saw a program on Time Team and they were in the outer Hebrides exploring cists. I learned so much about the history of that area. We antipodeans tend to think that the world revolves around us, our white history is so young. Aboriginal history is another matter, seeing they have been here for 40,000 years.
    Thanks for another glimpse into your world,

  7. Fascinating! I love that king piece -- he has buggy eyes!

    I'll have to show this to Chase in the morning. I know he'll be quite interested.

  8. Twould be grand if the Chessmen could have a permanent home back on the island. I'm sure somebody will be lobbying hard for it somewhere? Junior looked like he had a great time! The freedom of the Isles. Pretty magical. GOS are fine pigs - hardy outdoor breed with a good, friendly temperament. Are you having them from Paul on Rassaay - I believe he has a few going spare after a cancelled order, at a very good price, good stock, good provenance. Best.

  9. They are so beautifully carved aren't they?

    I seem to remember spending an afternoon at the distillery in Mangersta/Uig and there was a huge replica standing outside - I would love one for my garden!

    Looking forward to hearing about your pigs - if they are anything like ours they will spend the whole day snoozing in their pig arc. It's all right for some eh?

  10. So good to see the real thing, even if you couldn't handle them. Perhaps an idea for the museum would be pieces of the same material that could be felt, so that people could touch that and understand.

  11. those chess pecies are amazing, and great to have them where they belong, even for one day. Your another blogger that I'm really inspired about at the moment, always off doing something fun. x x x

  12. It was really good to see them, and I am glad you enjoyed it too.
    Iain - the pigs will be native West- siders - we are getting them from one of the Crofters along the road. Rasaay would be an easy enough journey though.
    Thank you all xxx

  13. I love the chessmen - they were the inspiration for Oliver Postgate's Noggin the Nog: http://www.nogginthenog.co.uk/
    See the tab on 'The Saga' for the story.

  14. Hi Linda - yes I saw that when the exhibition was in Edinburgh last year. i did look up the cartoons on You tube but James wasn't very interested at the time. Might try again now he is a bit older and more sophisticated - lol.

  15. I'm so glad they were able to return if only for a day. We saw them in Stornoway this summer - my daughter found their expressions quite scary! The poem is beautiful too. How wonderful that your community keeps up the tradition of writing poems to celebrate things like this.


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