Gaming in the Seventh Century

Archaeologists from the University of Reading have found a seventh century board game piece in the remains of an Anglo-Saxon royal hall in Kent.  The hollow bone cylinder with a central bronze rivet found at the Lyminge dig is thought to belong to an early Backgammon or Draughts-type games set.  Board games were really popular in Anglo-Saxon times, especially Latrunculi and Tabula, which had a lot in common with Chess and Draughts with the aim being to capture the opponent’s pieces.

Ancient Game Piece

Finds like this are very rare and the last time a piece like this was found it was in an aristocratic grave excavated in Taplow in Buckinghamshire in the 1880s.  On that occasion, ten pieces were found and these are now in the British Museum.  The game piece recently found in Kent is an isolated discovery and is unique in that it was found where the game was being played, so is presumably a piece that was lost during the game or as it was put away.  Maybe in a thousand years archaeologists will be finding lost trains from Ticket to Ride!