William Sterling

The Lewis Chess Set: archetype of Mediaeval Society

This topic was day four of a five part introduction to the European Galleries of the British Museum run at the City Lit and the Museum on 29 July 2013.  I hope to re-run the course in summer 2014.

The British Museum holds astonishing artefacts which colour our understanding of Medieval society. The Lewis chessmen in the Museum exemplify many of the strands of that society from the importance of trade, the church and the army to the attitude to the ordinary people.  The British Museum dates the start of the Middle Ages from the acceptance of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire by Constantine in 312. The Middle Ages ended with the Renaissance but there is no specific event marking this event sometime in the C15th. During that thousand years there were many changes in Europe and a variety of styles in art and design. Works examined include the Esquiline Treasure, the St Michael ivory, Sutton Hoo burial, Franks casket, Cuerdale Viking hoard, Lewis chessmen, Royal Gold Cup and Holy thorn reliquary.

Although there were no handouts ready on the day here are some additional materials that might be of interest

Notable Anglo-Saxon Women

Some Notable Anglo Saxon Women

Anglo-Saxon Women bibliography

Bibliography for women

Anglo-Saxon timeline


Anglo-Saxon Kings and Queens

Anglo-Saxon Kings and Queens

Family tree of Jean duc de Berry

Jean family tree

Timeline for Jean duc de Berry


Also see the series of lectures from my Baltic Cruise