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Olympic Medalist Jessica Eddie and the Lewis Chessmen

Checkmate

Olympic Silver Medalist Jessica Eddie visited the Isle of Lewis in the northernmost reaches of Scotland's Outer Hebrides a few years ago.  The island - also the home to Harris Tweed - is famous in part for the iconic medieval Viking chess set discovered there by Malcolm "Sport" Macleod in 1831.

"I was totally hooked," Jess says.  "The chess pieces were unearthed on a beach in Camas Uig.  Dating from sometime in the 12th century, they have such funny little faces and so much character."

 

The chessmen were probably carved in Norway (and indeed, the Outer Hebrides were part of the Norwegian kingdom in the twelfth century).  They constitute a remarkable artifact in the history of the game of chess, which traces its origins to India in the mid first millennium AD.

Jess has won multiple medals at the World and European Championships, and won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio as part of the Great Britain women's eight; she is currently studying History of Design at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Royal College of Art.  She is photographed here wearing our hand-embroidered Lewis Chess cap.