Nineteenth-Century Chess Pieces Found in Lincolnshire Barn

News January 14, 2019

(Lincolnshire County Council)
England Lincolnshire Chess Pieces
(Lincolnshire County Council)

LINCOLNSHIRE, ENGLAND—A pair of chess pieces dating to the nineteenth century were uncovered during renovations of a barn in the town of Burgh le Marsh, according to a report from the Skegness Standard. The queen and bishop were found in a beam over the barn’s main entrance and are believed to have served as protective amulets, placed there to help keep the occupants and their livestock safe, according to archaeologist Adam Daubney of the Lincolnshire County Council. “We know that in the 1800s, people used to place artifacts at boundaries and thresholds of properties to help ward off evil spirits,” he said. “These tended to be things like shoes, miniature bibles, or mummified cats. We haven’t seen chess pieces before.” He adds that the pieces, which were made from plaster of Paris or crushed stone and then probably dipped in resin, were specifically chosen for their symbolic value. “It seems likely that the praying Bishop and Queen—the latter which might have served the role of Mary—were carefully selected from the chess set as pieces that might have particular spiritual power to ward off evil,” said Daubney. To read about an 800-year-old chess piece discovered in Norway, go to “Norwegian Knight.”

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