Monday, 18 December 2017

Medieval chess pieces from antler: individual chess pieces

This post will show the individual chess pieces of the medieval Noyon-like chess pieces made from antler. Some more information on the original pieces and the construction of this set can be found in the previous blogpost.

The pawns


The two surviving pawns from the original Noyon chess set. The number of ribs is different due to the size of the pawn (9 vs 10). Both pawns belong to the same side. They are 30-31 mm high and have a diameter of 16-17 mm. Adjusted scan from the 'Revue archeologique de Picardie'.

Two pawns from each side. Also our (left side) pawns do have different numbers of ribs because of their diameters. The right side had to be newly designed by us and consists of triangles.

The rooks


The two original rooks from the Noyon chess set. Both are from the same side. Height 54/55 mm, width 37/34 mm and depth 20/21 mm, respectively. Adjusted scan from the 'Revue archeologique de Picardie'.

The four sides of a rook from the 'ribbed' side. This one was made from roe antler.

The four sides of a rook from the 'triangular' side. This one was made from deer antler.

All four rooks next to each other.

The knights


The two knights from opposing sides, as can be seen by the different front and backside. They measure 58/57 mm height, 36/30 mm width, and 32/27 mm depth, respectively.  Adjusted scan from the 'Revue archeologique de Picardie'.

All four sides from a knight from the 'ribbed' side. Our knights were adjusted to either the ribbed or triangular pattern, which is slightly dissimilar to the original patterns. The head of the knight has two lines.

All four sides from a knight of the 'triangular' side.


All four knights together. All knights were made from deer antler.

The elephants/bishops

Only one elephant survived from the Noyon chess set. The back looks like the 'ribbed' side. Height 56 mm, width 31 mm and depth 29 mm. Adjusted scan from the 'Revue archeologique de Picardie'.

All four side from an elephant from the 'ribbed' side.


All four sides from an elephant of the 'triangular side'.

All four elephants together. All elephants were made from deer antler.

The queens



Only one queen survived from the Noyon chess set, which has a 'ribbed' backside. Height 57 mm, width 42 mm, depth 34 mm.  Adjusted scan from the 'Revue archeologique de Picardie'.
The four sides of the 'ribbed' queen. Our queens are different from the Noyon one in such that the 'ribbed' variant also has a ribbed front.

The four sides of the 'triangular' queen.


The kings


Both original kings from the Noyon chess set. The differences between the two kings are the wider spacing on the back and the slashes on the triangles of King 2, while King 1 has an extra ring on his crown. Height 78/72 mm, width  46/38 mm and depth 34/37 mm, respectively. Adjusted scans from the 'Revue archeologique de Picardie'.

The four sides of the king from the 'ribbed' side. There is no distinction in crowns of the kings, as I noticed too late the extra ring, when there was not enough space left to add it.

The four sides of the king from the 'triangular' side. 

The kings and queens from the new chess set.

Sources used:

  • J-F. Goret, M. Talon and J-H. Ivinec, 2009. Le jeu d'echecs de Noyon dans sons contexte archeologique et historique. Revue Archeologique de Picardie 2009: 79-119.

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