A family in Edinburgh had this curious medieval chess piece, mostly tucked in a drawer, for more than 50 years since the grandfather, an antiques dealer, bought it for £5. Recently, his granddaughter had it appraised at Sotheby's where it was identified as one of the five missing pieces from the historically significant Lewis Chessmen from the late 12th/early 13th century and dug up on the Isle of Lewis in 1831. The single piece is expected to fetch £1 million at auction. The rest of the set is held by the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland. From the BBC News:
They are seen as an "important symbol of European civilisation" and have also seeped into popular culture, inspiring everything from children's show Noggin The Nog to part of the plot in Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone...
The newly-discovered piece is a warder, a man with helmet, shield and sword and the equivalent of a rook on a modern chess board, which "has immense character and power..."
The discovery of the hoard (of pieces) remains shrouded in mystery, with stories of it being dug up by a cow grazing on sandy banks.
It is thought it was buried shortly after the objects were made, possibly by a merchant to avoid taxes after being shipwrecked, and so remained underground for 500 years.
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