Front view of a bishop, from the Lewis Chesspieces

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found at Uig Bay, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Postcard of Front view of a bishop, from the Lewis Chesspieces.
© National Museums Scotland

Front view of a bishop, from the Lewis Chesspieces

This is one of 16 bishops known to have been amongst a hoard of around 80 chesspieces found in the winter of 1830-1 at Uig Bay on Lewis. The walrus ivory pieces were made in Iceland or Norway in the second half of the 12th century. The group is known as 'The Lewis Chessmen.'

The photograph shows the front of the piece. The bishop is shown blessing with his right hand and holding a crosier in his left. His vestments accurately reflect those worn by a 12th-century bishop.

Since early medieval times, the crosier has been the symbol of the bishop. The staff of the crosier was made of wood, while its rolled head was usually made of precious metals or ivory.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-001-633-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.NS 25
Date: Late 12th century
Second half of the 12th century
Material: Walrus ivory
Dimensions: 60 - 100 mm H
What: Chessman
Subject: Sports (NMAS Classification)
Where: Scotland, Ross and Cromarty, Lewis, Uig
Description: Chesspiece of walrus ivory, a bishop, found in an underground chamber in the parish of Uig, Lewis in 1831: Scandinavian in origin, late 12th century
  • 'The Lewis Chesspieces' multimedia programme NMS 1995 
  • Taylor, M. The Lewis Chessmen. London: British Museum Press, 1978 
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