The Viking Game must rank as one of history’s greatest board games. It was at its most popular during the Dark Ages in Northern Europe, a period of scant records and shifting populations. Like so much of the Dark Ages, our knowledge of Hnefatafl (sometimes abbreviated to tafl) is patchy; a mystery now half solved as a result of archaeological research. Our Hnefatafl game pieces are based on designs inspired by the famous Lewis chess pieces.
The Hnefatafl Game was popular in the Viking homelands in Scandinavia as early as AD400 and was carried by the Vikings to the lands they conquered. Over the centuries the game developed and different versions of the board have been found by archaeologists in sites from Ireland to Ukraine.
Occasionally referred to in manuscripts, the game was known as Hnefatafl which means literally ‘King’s table’. The study of these manuscripts and examination of the various types of board and pieces has enabled researchers to work out how the game was probably played. There is no doubt, however, that many versions of the rules existed at different places and at different times.
The Hnefatafl Game was last recorded as being played in Wales in 1587 and in Lapland in 1723. Its decline began in the 11th century as chess grew in popularity, and it soon lingered on only in remote county districts.
There are 39 Viking game pieces in the set, made of resin and designed to replicate hand carved walrus ivory in Viking style. The Viking game board is made of thick linen fabric with a printed played area.
Although we do not currently sell this game online, do please contact us and we can advise you as to where it may be purchased.