The inhabitants of ancient Scandinavia, like many other peoples who lived hundreds of years ago, possessed an extremely rich and interesting culture for us. It consisted of many beliefs and traditions, some of which are so incomprehensible to scientists that they still can not solve their secrets. For example, recently on the territory of the Norwegian province Mere-og-Romsdal, the remains of a huge ship were found, the purpose of which archaeologists can only guess at. But some of the findings of scientists are very simple to understand, because at least we are familiar. Such findings include a figure the size of a small candy, which was used in the Viking board game. But really the ancient warriors had time for such entertainment?
According to the organization DigVentures, which is engaged in archaeological excavations, the figure was found in September 2019 on the territory of the English island of Lindisfarne. It is known that hundreds of years ago a monastery was located there, which was ravaged in 793 AD during the Viking raid. It was there that archaeologists unearthed a figure made of white and blue glass, whose age is estimated at 1200 years. This ancient figure was clearly made with great difficulty, therefore, due to its age and the use of expensive materials, it is considered very valuable.
The oldest board game
According to the researchers, the figure found represents the king from the Scandinavian game of oil and gas, whose name can literally be translated as “the king’s table”. At its core, it was a well-known chess, because the board with an odd number of cells served as a playing field. Players were allowed to place figures in any direction and at any distance, but only kings could stand on the “throne” and corner cells. The goal of the white pieces is to bring the king to one of the corner cells, and the black pieces are trying to capture the king.
Based on the fact that the figure was made of expensive materials, scientists suggested that it belonged to one of the Viking rulers. It was made during the very first Viking raids on British lands, but historians do not deny that this game could be familiar even to the ancient British. They do not exclude the possibility that the Vikings played a board game even with their potential enemies, but by what exact rules they are unlikely to ever know.
The fact that the monks from the island of Lindisfarne could go with the Vikings for cooperation, there is little doubt. Since they first saw the Scandinavian warriors, they could be very scared. In addition, historians describe the monastery not as a quiet and modest place, but as a busy transit point. Probably, the Vikings sacked this place and went to the kingdom of Northumbria, which was subsequently captured.
In general, at the moment it is known that the Vikings brought the game of oil and gas to many countries in which they managed to visit. For example, there is evidence that this board game was known in Greenland, Iceland and even in Kievan Rus. However, when real chess appeared in Scandinavia, the ancient logical game was gradually forgotten.