Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

An early Anglo Saxon chess piece

The MailOnline this past week had a report about the discovery and subsequent sale of a delightful little figurine that is assumed to be the survivor from an Anglo Saxon chess set. Made of bronze it would appear to be chess piece, but as no other pieces were found near it or the remains of a board it had been suggested that it might have been used in strategic planning of campaigns. Dated to the seventh century it was found at Bradwell in Great Yarmouth and thus is part of the legacy of the vigorous artistic life of the East Anglian Kingdom in the age of Sutton Hoo.

It is perhaps rather a pity that it has gone to a private collection rather than a museum where it could be more widely appreciated, but maybe that will happen in the fullness of time.

1 comment:

Mr Grumpy said...

Thanks for drawing my attention to this fascinating find. It's not likely that anyone in England was playing chess at this early date; the game's westward diffusion from India had probably not got further than Persia.

Perhaps a representation of a pagan god, or a high-status child's toy?

Merry Christmas!