In This Section
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.
Latest News & Blog:
Modern Innovations: the Weaponless King
23 May: I was uncertain whether to include the weaponless king in my series of blog posts about modern innovations in hnefatafl. For one thing, it's not particularly modern: its first ... (read more...)
If you don't have a hnefatafl board yet, and you fancy trying out the game with a friend, print-and-play files are a good way to improvise a set. The ... (read more...)
Oldenburg: Set of Pieces
A variety of materials makes up this apparently complete set found in Oldenburg, Germany. There are thirty-seven pieces in all, twenty-two of walrus ivory and fourteen of whalebone, accompanied ... (read more...)