A major touring exhibition of the Lewis Chessmen will open in May 2010, visiting the Scottish cities of Stornoway, Shetland, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
The exhibition will open at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and will showcase 30 of the Lewis chess pieces - 24 from the British Museum and six from the National Museum of Scotland.
The Lewis Chessmen were discovered on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 and they are thought to have been made in Norway in the late 12th or 13th century. The majority of chess pieces are with the British Museum and eleven pieces are on display in Scotland in the National Museum of Scotland
Scotland's Culture Minister Michael Russell said, "The Lewis Chessmen are a significant part of our culture and this major touring exhibition will give people across country an opportunity to see some of the most significant archaeological artefacts ever discovered in Scotland.
"The free exhibition will showcase 30 of the intricately worked chess pieces from walrus ivory and whales' teeth - it will be a major attraction for tourists both locally and internationally. Visitors will also learn more about the fascinating story of the chessmen as the exhibition details the many stories and myths surrounding these iconic objects.
"The Chessmen reflect the strong cultural and political links between Scotland and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages and the growing popularity of the game of chess in Europe."
The Scottish Government has provided £75,000 towards the exhibition, which has been created in partnership with National Museums Scotland and the British Museum.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director, National Museums Scotland, said, "I am pleased to announce this major touring exhibition, which will cast new light on the fascinating story of the chessmen and enhance their place in the public imagination. We are delighted to be creating the exhibition in partnership with the British Museum and grateful for support from the Scottish Government for this significant tour."
The tour dates are:
- National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh: May 21 - September 19, 2010
- Aberdeen Art Gallery: October 7, 2010 - January 8, 2011
- Shetland Museum & Archives: January 29, 2011 - March 27, 2011
- Museum nan Eilean, Stornoway: April 15, 2011 - September 12, 2011