Hnefatafl

the Game of the Vikings

In This Section

A tablut set made in about 2007

While most of the world knows how to play the ancient games of backgammon, chess and draughts, there is an almost forgotten game, comparatively ancient, which hangs like a spectre over a large part of northern Europe. This game is hnefatafl, also known in its various forms as tafl, brandubh, tawlbwrdd, alea evangelii and tablut, and less certainly by some as gwyddbwyll and ficheall. It is a game of skill in which a king tries to escape, with the help of his men, from a numerous besieging army.

On this web site I will take you on a tour of the game, starting with its history from the earliest times, through its travels with the Viking settlers, on to the time of its decline and finally to its modern revival. Then I will explain the rules, taking in the large number of variations that have existed through the ages. After that I will give an outline of the game's strategy. Finally, you can play the game against the computer or a friend using a virtual board.

I have provided at the end of each page a link to the next section of our tour. So if you would like to join me, our tour will start with the game's history.

Next: History.

Latest News & Blog:
Hnefatafl as a Family Tree

18 Jul: I've wanted to do a hnefatafl timeline for about a year now, and still haven't got around to doing it. But in the mean time, I had another idea: ... (read more...)

Last Page Added:
Frequently Asked Questions

Some questions about hnefatafl come up regularly here, on the social media feeds for this site, and around the Internet in general. As I see them, I'll add them ... (read more...)

Daily Article:
Garryduff: Stone Board

A stone graffiti board was found in Garryduff, Ireland. It is similar to the Downpatrick board, but lacks the corner markings. (read more...)

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