Ancient Vikings played board games 1200 years ago

Members of the crowdfunding archaeological organization DigVentures, under the patronage of archaeologists from the University of Durham (UK), have made an unusual find during recent excavations in Northumberland. The artifact is a small candy-sized figurine made of two types of glass, white and blue. It has a bizarre shape and patterns, which, taking into account the age of at least 1200 years, indicates a huge difficulty in manufacturing. And, as a result, great value.

The first variant is the "king", the main figure from the Viking board game "hnefatafl", reminiscent of chess. Chess itself will appear in Europe only in 300-400 years. Judging by its age, the figurine was made at the very beginning of the Viking raids on the British Isles, before they plundered heaps of treasures, and therefore they still valued every coin. The figurine, like the game itself, probably belonged to an educated jarl, and not an ordinary warrior, and he would never have parted with such a value.

The place of discovery of the find, the ruins of an ancient monastery on the island of Lindisfarne, is also interesting. Numerous shards of jugs, expensive copper buckles, pins, and architectural elements indicate that this was not a modest monastery of monks, but something like a staging post. A fun, lively place, located just on the path of the Viking invasions in Northumbria - faced with the northern warriors, the monks quickly realized that it was better to cooperate than to die.

This means that on the island of Lindisfarne, with a high probability, there was trade, the loot was exchanged for supplies, bulky items for compact, convenient for transportation by sea. The local elite interacted with the Vikings and, for sure, loved to while away the evenings with a glass of ale and a board game. You can imagine a dispute over whose rules to play, which develops into a fight, where a rich Briton, the owner of the play set and figure, is accidentally killed. In a fight, she herself is trampled into the mud, the Vikings take their own and leave, and the most valuable object remains to wait for thousands of years to tell its story.