Berserker

replica: from the British Museum, London

donated by: Professor Sharon Wright and Lyla Wright

date of the original: 1150-1200 CE

provenance of the original: Uig, an area on the western coast of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland buried in a sandbank.

description: The berserkers are one of the two types of rooks in the Lewis Chessmen collection.  These pieces are often considered comic relief as they are characterized by their bulging eyes and biting of their shields.  Berserkers, in Norse legend, were fighters who inspired great fear into their opponents because they were vicious and uncontrollable in battle.

The "Norwegian argument," the belief that the Chessmen were crafted in Trondheim, Norway, is the most widely accepted theory pertaining to the origins of the Chessmen as it is supported by the most evidence. However, some scholars have recently found evidence that suggest the possibility of the Lewis Chessmen pieces having Icelandic roots.