Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

More Information on the Knockanboy Board

Reconstruction of the Knockanboy board
Reconstruction of the Knockanboy board

Sunday, 24th November 2013

There are occasional references on other web sites and in books and articles, to a gaming board from Knockanboy in Ireland, similar the Ballinderry board. But nowhere are these references accompanied by any detail. They merely point out that the board is considered lost.

Some time ago, I mentioned on social media that I had obtained a copy of W. Simpson's article "A Gaming Board of the Ballinderry Type from Knockanboy, Co. Antrim". It has taken me a while, but I have now managed to add the information to this site.

The article was written in 1972 and formed part of the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Third Series, Volume 35. The board was unavailable even then, as the 1972 article took its information from an old drawing in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of County Antrim.

The board was discovered in 1837, and the last contemporary reference to the board was the drawing mentioned above, dated 25/26 March 1838. The annotation reads: "The prefixed is an outline of a curious wooden object, square, 7 inches by 7 inches, with small holes in it, and the top curiously carved, and half an inch thick. It was found 5 feet deep in a flow bog last summer, 1837, by Gordon Lyle in the townland of [Knockanboy in the district] of Maheradonell. See specimen by J. [Bleakly]."

The drawing is very rough, and actually shows a board of eight rows of seven holes, though Simpson considers this a mistake. I've added a diagram which is a speculative completion of the board, neatened up and with a second handle added, as supposed by Simpson.


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