Palgrave Macmillan
FORMAT: Hardback
ISBN: 9781137279378
RRP: £18.99
PAGES: 288
PUBLICATION DATE: October 1, 2015


Ivory Vikings

By (author) Nancy Marie Brown

In the early 1800’s, on a Hebridean beach in Scotland, the sea exposed an ancient treasure cache: 93 chessmen carved from walrus ivory. Norse netsuke, each face individual, each full of quirks, the Lewis Chessmen are probably the most famous chess pieces in the world. Harry played Wizard’s Chess with them in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Housed at the British Museum, they are among its most visited and beloved objects.Questions abounded: Who carved them? Where? Nancy Marie Brown’s “Ivory Vikings” explores these mysteries by connecting medieval Icelandic sagas with modern archaeology, art history, forensics, and the history of board games. In the process, Ivory Vikings presents a vivid history of the 400 years when the Vikings ruled the North Atlantic, and the sea-road connected countries and islands we think of as far apart and culturally distinct: Norway and Scotland, Ireland and Iceland, and Greenland and North America. The story of the Lewis chessmen explains the economic lure behind the Viking voyages to the west in the 800s and 900s. And finally, it brings from the shadows an extraordinarily talented woman artist of the twelfth century: Margret the Adroit of Iceland.

Reviews of Ivory Vikings

With obvious linguistic skill and respect for historical detail as well as a passion for travel to unearth the truth, Brown offers a tantalizing trail of plausibility.–Patrick J. Stevens, Librarian/Curator, Cornell University Library

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