March 19, 2012

The closest the Lewis Chessmen got to their home

Posted at 2:01 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Having worked their way through various museums in their current tour, the Lewis Chessmen are going to be put on display in the local museum in Uig, close to where they were found. The catch – they are only on display there for four and a half hours, and the exhibitions there will only include a small percentage of the total collection.

BBC News

8 September 2011 Last updated at 11:48
Lewis Chessmen return ‘home’ to Uig Museum exhibition

Six Lewis Chessmen are to go on display at a museum close to where more than 90 of the historic pieces were found buried in a sand dune in 1831.

A knight, pawn, warder, king, queen and bishop will be on public display at Uig Museum for four-and-a-half hours on 13 September.

More than 30 pieces have been on show at the Museum nan Eilean 33 miles away in Stornoway since April this year.

The exhibition in Stornoway ends the day before the Uig Museum display.

More than 20,000 people have been to the Stornoway exhibition so far.

The small museum in Uig Community Centre in Timsgarry has been counting down to the six pieces’ arrival on its website.

Chess pieces have previously been on display in the Parish of Uig.
Question experts

The area’s Baile na Cille Church, now in private ownership, will also be open to visitors for Doors Open Day on Tuesday.

The church opened two years before the chessmen were found, and the then minister, Alexander Macleod, was reportedly involved in their sale.

David Caldwell, keeper of Scotland and Europe at National Museums Scotland, and James Robinson, from the British Museum, will be at Uig Museum to answer questions.

Sarah Egan, a member of historical society Comann Eachdraidh Uig, said she was delighted the chessmen were “coming home”.
‘Still fresh’

She said: “We’re hoping that the whole community will turn out to see them, as happened last time they were in Uig, and we have a few special events planned to mark the day.

“The finding of the collection is still fresh in local tradition, and we follow the research and speculation about their origins with interest.

“Our hope is that more interest will be given to their finding in Uig, and that that may lead to a better understanding of the Viking community here.”

National Museums Scotland has signed a partnership agreement with Museum nan Eilean for a further five years to look at future loans and possibilities for joint projects to highlight the collections of both organisations.

The British Museum has agreed to support the redevelopment of historic Lews Castle in Stornoway and also to work with Museum nan Eilean.

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