News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Hagbard
Posts: 406
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by Hagbard » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:02 pm

Origin of the Skalk Hnefatafl version.
In Denmark is an archaeological magazine named Skalk. Connected to Skalk is a publishing firm named Wormianum. In 1992 Wormianum published the book:
Karsten Kjer Michaelsen: "Bræt og brik, Spil i jernalderen", Wormianum 1992. (Board and piece, Games in the iron age).
The author of the book is a Danish professional archaeologist and curator and writes in the preface:
"I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank [5 collegues] for ... cheerful hours at the Hnefatafl board.
...
The game 'Hnefatafl', which is discussed in the last chapter of the book, is in 1980 attempted reconstructed by David Brown, Oxford, with whose kind permission the game rules are printed - here, however, in adapted form. Testing the game has led to adjustment of the rules."
The Hnefatafl game rules, as mentioned printed in the last chapter of the book, are absolutely identical to the enclosed rules in the Skalk Hnefatafl game set sold from the Skalk shop and from museum shops.
(Someone uploaded them to the internet here: http://ekg.dynalias.com/media-Internal/ ... avl-2.html )

So: the Skalk Hnefatafl version dates from 1992 and was written by Michaelsen, modified from an earlier work by Brown 1980.
We have encountered "the British connection" of Hnefatafl; seems fair that the current world champion is British!
I wonder what the original rules by Brown looked like?

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crust
Posts: 127
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by crust » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:08 am

Hagbard wrote:Karsten Kjer Michaelsen: "Bræt og brik, Spil i jernalderen", Wormianum 1992. (Board and piece, Games in the iron age).
The author of the book is a Danish professional archaeologist and writes in the preface: "I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank [5 collegues] for ... cheerful hours at the Hnefatafl board...The game 'Hnefatafl', which is discussed in the last chapter of the book, is in 1980 attempted reconstructed by David Brown, Oxford, with whose kind permission the game rules are printed - here, however, in adapted form. Testing the game has led to adjustment of the rules."
I think this may be the same David Brown who founded Oxbow books (archaeological bookseller), in Oxford UK, after some time working as an archaeologist in the field and at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (a very prestigious institution). I found this article at: http://www.archaeology.co.uk/blog/andre ... /oxbow.htm

Oxbow books will be well known to most British archaeologists as our foremost seller of archaeological books, both new and second-hand. They are also a leading publisher of specialised and semi popular archaeological books ... David Brown was formerly a curator at the Ashmolean Museum and carried out an important excavation of an Anglo-Saxon church at Cirencester. He started selling archaeological books in his spare time in 1983, setting up book stalls, which always looked extremely enticing, at archaeological meetings. Then, greatly daring, he decided in 1988 to go into bookselling full-time, giving up his secure position at the Ashmolean. The new business was a great success. He expanded first into a large shed at the bottom of his garden, then into small premises in Oxford and then into his present large premises at Park End Place in Oxford, down by the railway station. Then came the most difficult part of the whole process – the expansion into America. ... Oxbow now publishes a huge range of archaeological reports, and is increasingly expanding into general archaeological books. Thus Oxbow has become not only the largest archaeological bookseller in Europe and one of the largest distributors of archaeological books in America, but is also one of the largest archaeological book publishers. It is hard to think that David Brown will retire completely. “What me?” he writes. “Well, I shall be around, involved in various ways but only as required. After 22 years, it is time for someone else to be running things.” Congratulations, and good luck!

I apologize for the length of this excerpt, but I thought it was interesting, particularly the detail that Brown had worked on an Anglo-Saxon dig in Cirencester, possibly in the late 70's or early 80's, which is when this "attempted reconstruction" of hnefatafl was made by someone called David Brown, which inspired the Skalk hnefatafl game. History Craft Ltd. is also based in Cirencester, this could just be a coincidence of course. But History Craft must have got their rules from somewhere, too, and if these two David Browns are indeed the same person, then an intriguing possibility suggests itself - he may have played a part in originating the History Craft rules as well as the Skalk rules. The differences could be explained by Michaelsen's admission that he modified the rules himself from Brown's original rule set. I realise this is a very tenuous tissue of assumptions - I'm only advancing it as a possibility. Some more research could be fruitful.

Hagbard
Posts: 406
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by Hagbard » Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:33 pm

crust wrote:Looks like they have one variant for sale in the shop (History Craft version) and a different one on show in the museum itself - this is clearly a 13x13 board
As in Roskilde museum: on the photo is a pile of Memory.no (History Craft) Hnefatafl game boxes with enclosed History Craft rules, but beside the boxes the museum shows the Skalk rules (grey paper), and in the exhibition hall is a Hnefatafl game table for the museum guests also showing the Skalk rules. So also in the museums, Hnefatafl is met as a collection of variants (not always been this way - when I first met Hnefatafl in the Danish museums, it was only Skalk everywhere).
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