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Western Isles MP thinks Lewis Chessmen may be returned

Western Isles MP, Angus MacNeil, states that the talks he has been having with the British Museum regarding the Lewis Chessmen have been very positive – the implication of this (based on MacNeil’s previous comments about the chessmen [1]) suggests that he now believes there is a reasonable chance that they may be returned to the Western Isles.

From:
BBC News [2]

Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Tuesday, 15 June 2010 14:16 UK
Lewis chessmen could be returned

Talks to return at least some of the Lewis chessmen to the Western Isles have been described as “very positive”.

The area’s MP Angus MacNeil made the comment following a meeting with the deputy director of the British Museum, where 82 of the chessmen are housed.

They discussed the possibility that the intricately carved pieces could feature as part of a display in the redeveloped Lews Castle or Museum nan Eilean.

The chessmen were found buried on Lewis in 1831.

They are thought to have belonged to a 12th Century merchant who visited Lewis as he journeyed from Ireland to Norway.

Mr MacNeil has previously called for most, if not all, the pieces to be returned to the islands.

However, in March the then-UK Culture Secretary Margaret Hodge said keeping them in London allowed many people to share in their history.

Eleven of the chessmen are currently held by the National Museum of Scotland.

Mr MacNeil said moving the pieces to Lewis would have a “measureable” benefit for the islands, but only a marginal loss effect on the British Museum.

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has also lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for all the pieces to be returned to Scotland.

Twenty four of the pieces from the London collection and six from Edinburgh are currently on a 16-month tour of Scotland, including Stornoway.

From:
Scotsman [3]

Wednesday, 23rd June 2010
Lewis Chessmen could be heading home to the Western Isles, says MP
Published Date: 16 June 2010

TALKS on the return of at least some of the iconic Lewis Chessmen to the Western Isles were yesterday described as “very positive”.
Nationalist MP Angus MacNeil made the comment following a meeting with a senior official at the British Museum in London.

The 93 Lewis Chessmen, found on the island in 1831, are thought to have been made in Norway between 1150 and 1200 and were buried there for safe keeping en route to be traded in Ireland.

Currently, 11 pieces are kept in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland, while the other 82 are in the British Museum.

Western Isles MP Mr MacNeil has previously called for most, if not all, the pieces to be returned to the islands.

Mr MacNeil said that moving the pieces to Lewis would have a “measurable” benefit for the islands, but only a marginal loss effect on the British Museum.

However, in March the then UK culture secretary, Margaret Hodge, said keeping them in London allowed many people to share in their history.

But Mr MacNeil said yesterday that after meeting Dr Andrew Burnett, deputy director of the British Museum, to “negotiate” the return – the museum had taken its first step.

“They are going to look at sending around 30 pieces to Lewis on a long loan,” he said. “They did not give a date when, but added that they would also send some of the associated exhibition facilities as well.

“The museum are going to have a good look at the loan – and for a very long time.”