Lewis Chessmen held at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh were made available to everyone to view from every angle yesterday (Tuesday September 10th).
Although that doesn’t mean that anyone can pick them up and handle them, the technological solution found by the museum offers an experience which brings the pieces up very close indeed, without even leaving home.
The eleven pieces held in Edinburgh, which include two kings, three queens and a shield-biting berserker, have been scanned in 3D for a new project to make each piece available for close scrutiny.
The work’s been done by archaeologist, curator and 3D modeller Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark, who said: “I loved modelling these beautiful things”. He used a program called Sketchfab, which allows designers and illustrators to create three-dimensional models from reality or from their imaginations.
The medieval Lewis chess pieces are among the most popular collections at the National Museum of Scotland, part of the large hoard discovered in Uig. The hoard contained 93 gaming pieces in total, including at least four chess sets as well as pieces from other games. Six of the pieces are on display at Museum nan Eilean at Lews Castle in Stornoway.
These new three-dimensional images will allow anyone to inspect each model from every angle, seeing tiny details including the grain of the walrus tusk from which they were made.
You can view the newly available 3D images via Sketchfab at https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/lewis-chess-pieces-complete-set-d279ce3fd0e44726a21286877c367a05 or following the link from the National Museums Scotland page at https://www.nms.ac.uk/lewischesspieces.
Picture shows the 11 Lewis chessmen held in the Edinburgh collection (National Museums Scotland).