Playing piece

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found at Iona Abbey, Inner Hebrides

Postcard of Playing piece.
© National Museums Scotland

Playing piece

This bone playing-piece was found in the room north of the chapter house at Iona Abbey in the Inner Hebrides. It dates from the 15th or 16th century.

The piece is carved with a crowned mermaid holding a fish and her own tail.

The earliest buildings of the religious establishment on Iona were founded by Columba after his arrival on the island in 563.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-001-678-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 99
Date: 15th - 16th century
15th or 16th century
Material: Bone
Dimensions: 38 mm D
What: Counter, playing / playman
Subject: Sports (NMAS Classification)
Where: Scotland, Argyll, Iona (Chapter House)
Description: Carved bone playing counter depicting a crowned mermaid holding a fish in her right hand and her own tail in her left, 15th or 16th century, found during work near the Chapter House, Iona
  • Caldwell, D. H. (ed). Angels, Nobles and Unicorns: Art and Patronage in Medieval Scotland. Edinburgh: NMS, 1982 
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