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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:
Reconstructing Alea Evangelii
20 Dec: Any real hnefatafl enthusiast will want, at some point, to try out the biggest hnefatafl game of them all, alea evangelii. This is known only from a mediaeval manuscript ... (read more...)
Last Page Added:
Do you want to know what a genuine historical hnefatafl game looks like? Maybe you want to make your own hnefatafl game, and you're looking to history for inspiration. ... (read more...)
Corpus Christi College MS. 122
A manuscript kept at the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, contains a diagram showing the initial layout of a tenth century game, and the accompanying text is an ... (read more...)