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:
Hnefatafl Out in the Open: a Game without Castles, Thrones or Burghs
29 Aug: I was pleased recently to be asked about hnefatafl games of a simple sort. Would a simple game of hnefatafl play well without having special rules for the central ... (read more...)
The Rules section explains all the variations you might come across in hnefatafl. If you want a ready-made rule set, then you need to pick a variant and play ... (read more...)
Ancient Laws of Wales
Laws originally formulated by Hywel Dda contained references to hnefatafl under its Welsh name of tawlbwrdd. This document provides a valuation of the forces on the king's tawlbort. Enough ... (read more...)