Tafl, from the Anglo-Saxon word for table, is a term that encompasses a variety of board games that survive from the early medieval period of northern Europe. There’s the Ard Rí variant, from what’s now Scotland, Brandudh from Ireland, and, among others, Hnefatafl, from Scandinavia. It’s a bit like chess, except that the two players have different objectives: one player uses his forces to try to capture the king, located at the centre of the board, while the other player’s objective is to escape, by getting the king to one of the corner squares. It’s chess, for Vikings.

Hnefatafl set

This laser-cut Hnefatafl set, by Leon Reboul, uses laser-cut 3 mm plywood rather than the carved bones of Lindisfarne’s monks, but it does capture the Viking aesthetic with some gorgeous artwork by Jonas Lau Markussen (jonaslaumarkussen.com). Now, if only we knew how to play…


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