Iron Age and Medieval Age Gaming

This is the Ballinderry Gaming Board held by the National Museum of Ireland which is often used to portray the ancient Irish game of ‘Fidchell’ – a game I occasionally make reference to in my own Fionn mac Cumhaill books.

Like many non-native representations of Irish culture however, this one is also flawed in that the Ballinderry Gaming Board is actually believed to have been used to play ‘Hnefatafl’ -a military board game used by the Vikings (which you won by driving a ‘King’ piece into one of the corners).

That aligns pretty well with the estimated dating of the board (it was found at the Ballinderry Crannóg which would have been occupied over the late 9th to 11th centuries).

It’s still pretty satisfying, though, to see how different cultures developed their own versions of an intellectual board game.