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More on the temporary loan of the Lewis Chessmen to Scotland

Some further coverage of the news that some of the Lewis Chessmen will be loaned to Scotland temporarily [1], but that they will definitely not be returning long term. As expected, many are not happy with this decision by the British Museum.

Press and Journal [2]

Letters Page
Published: 02/10/2009
Lewis Chessmen returning

SIR, – I refer to your story (October 1) about the Lewis Chessmen returning to Scotland.

Once again, the authorities have graced us with their kindness, and agreed to “lend” the nation of Scotland her own items of cultural significance. How thoroughly decent of them.

The Scottish Government should be applauded and criticised in equal measure. We have seen the Stone of Destiny, arguably Scotland’s most important historical and cultural item, return to its rightful place, but with steel shackles attached. And now, some more of the Lewis Chessmen return to their adopted homeland, but please do not get comfortable, as England wants them back.

Does England want something in return for them? How about Scotland giving cricket and John Motson back, never to be seen in this land again, in return for our items?

Seems like a fair swap to me.

Davy Reid,
2 Meiklehall Cottages,

Press and Journal [3]

Famous Lewis Chessmen on the move
pieces from collection to go on display around Scotland
By Cameron Brooks
Published: 02/10/2009

PIECES from the world’s most famous chess set are going on display in museums in Aberdeen, Stornoway and Lerwick from next year, it was announced yesterday.

The British Museum, National Museums Scotland and Scottish Government have teamed up to give people the opportunity to see 30 of the Lewis Chessmen figures for free.

In total, 93 pieces, carved out of walrus ivory and whales’ teeth, were discovered on a beach near Uig in 1831. They depict kings, queens, bishops, mounted knights, standing warders and obelisk-shaped pawns.

The pieces – 24 from the British Museum in London and six from National Museums Scotland – will be put on display in Aberdeen Art Gallery from October 7, 2010, to January 8, 2011.

They will be on display at Shetland Museum and Archives – chosen due to its Nordic roots as the chessmen are thought to have been made in Norway – from January 29, 2011, to March 27, 2011. Stornoway residents will see them at Museum nan Eilean from April 15, 2011, until September 12, 2011.

The Scottish Government is spending £75,000 to ensure people have free access to the exhibitions. Culture Minister Mike Russell said: “The chessmen reflect the strong cultural and political links between Scotland and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages and the growing popularity of chess in Europe.”

Mr Russell and Western Isles SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said they were delighted the chessmen were making a “homecoming”. But they vowed the campaign to repatriate all 82 pieces from London to join the 11 housed in the National Museum of Scotland would continue.

Mr Russell said the loan arrangement for the exhibition represented a temporary “compromise” between the Scottish Government and the British Museum in London.

Bonnie Greer, chairwoman of the trustees of the British Museum, said she “sympathised” with the SNP’s position but the chessmen would stay where they “belonged” and be periodically loaned to other museums.

“The chess pieces are the centrepiece of our idea of the museum being a ‘museum of the world’,” she added.

The chessmen will be on display at the National Museum of Scotland from May 21 until September 19, 2010.

Scotsman [4]

Question of the week: Should Scotland compromise on the return of the Lewis Chessmen?
Published Date: 02 October 2009

WELCOME to Scotland on Sunday’s online feature, Question of the Week.

Each week we ask the readers of scotlandonsunday.com for their views on a burning issue from the past seven days.

The best responses may be reproduced on the Online Forum page in Sunday’s print edition of the newspaper on October 4th.

If you wish to appear in Scotland on Sunday, then, along with your response, please leave a first name and surname, as well as your location – eg Tom Smith, Edinburgh. We welcome all comments.

The question this week is…

Should Scotland compromise on the return of the Lewis Chessmen?