Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

Some Attention for the Coppergate Board

Coppergate print-and-play board
Coppergate print-and-play board

Wednesday, 25th September 2013

Excavations in York from the mid-1970s have turned up lots of interesting Viking artefacts, many of which are now housed in the Jorvik museum. One of these is part of a gaming board. Originally thought to have fifteen rows of fifteen squares, only three rows survive. These are a complete plank, and the complete board would have been made of five separate planks. They were fixed together with a wooden border, part of which survives.

In all the books about hnefatafl so far, this board hasn't been given much attention. It's sometimes mentioned, but none of the books try to give any information about how a game would have been played on this board. Even Jorvik, when collaborating on a game to be sold in their shop, came up with a game on an 11x11 board. Even those authors who were never coy about putting their own speculation in print have avoided doing so for the Coppergate board.

For a few years I've tried to rectify that. The hnefatafl applet on this site has always supported the 15x15 board. And now I've added a print-and-play download to make it easier for you to play this game against a friend (see Coppergate print-and-play under the Related Downloads heading). Until someone starts to sell a 15x15 game, this is the best Coppergate hnefatafl game around!


Are there any publications that go into more detail on this find? I'm interested in knowing the species of wood, details on the metal border, and dimensions of the original as I intend to make a new Tafl board.

I'm also interested in similar details from the Trondheim find as well.

Charles G. - 19:14, 20/11/2020

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