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Historical Evidence for 11 x 11 boards

Posted: Tue May 03, 2016 3:55 pm
by norsecode
Hi Folks,

This is my first post!

I had a question regarding hnefatafl and I though this would be a good place to ask the experts :)

I recently picked up a copy of hnefatafl from the Museum in Edinburgh and have really enjoyed playing it.

After googling (a lot) I found the Carl Linnaeus tablut rules which seem to work nicely (for me at least) though I've still been using a corner escape for the king.

However, this led me to the following question:

I was wondering if anyone knows of any historical evidence for an 11 x 11 board? and specifically one with corners marked? I know, there has been some evidence for corner marked 7x7 boards (The Balinderry board) but I'm struggling to find any 11 x 11 boards other than the Trondheim one (which seems to have different markings).

I've seen the Ockelbo Picture Stone as evidence but the quality is unclear, for all I know it could be showing the initial placements of 5 groups of pieces....

Any help/insights on this matter would be much appreciated.



Re: Historical Evidence for 11 x 11 boards

Posted: Wed May 04, 2016 11:21 pm
by cyningstan
The only direct evidence I know of for an 11x11 board is the one from Trondheim. It's pictured at the bottom of this page. It doesn't have corner markings, though. I don't know of any evidence for marked corners on this size of board. The only boards I know of that have marked corners are the 7x7 boards from Ballinderry and Downpatrick in Ireland, and the 19x19 alea evangelii board depicted in a mediaeval manuscript and reputedly played in England in the tenth century.

Re: Historical Evidence for 11 x 11 boards

Posted: Thu May 05, 2016 11:26 am
by norsecode
Thanks for the reply cynigstan!

That website has explained a lot to me over the past few weeks, if it's yours as your username suggests then thanks for creating an interesting and really informative site!

So if no evidence for an 11 x 11 board with corners escapes exists, do you know how this came about? is it a modern invention?

It seems to me that Carl Linnaeus' rules for tablut once retranslated by modern scholars is complete utilising an edge escape on any of the non-hostile embroidered squares (labelled as 1 & 4 in Linnaeus' diagram) as described here:

So I'm wondering why no-one plays these rules exacly...

Apologies for the barrage of questions, I like the idea of playing the game as authentically as possible, as after all these historical rules have been honed after 500 odd years of playing.

Re: Historical Evidence for 11 x 11 boards

Posted: Fri May 06, 2016 2:31 pm
by norsecode
In the meantime I've been reading this forums post regarding Saami tablut (which is probably old news to everyone here), so this has answered a lot of my questions regarding the adoption of Linnaeus' rules. ... hp?f=1&t=6

I'm guessing then that the hnefatafl I know is a modern creation from an almagamation of a number of rules?

Re: Historical Evidence for 11 x 11 boards

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 12:37 am
by Tuireann
I prefer the Saami Tablut rules given here. I love the 11x11 Tablut variant found here which is the layout typically attributed to Tawlbwrdd and was found to be more balanced than other layouts for the Saami Tablut rules through a test tournament thus I doubt it has any historicity. However the 9x9 variant presents some of the most historical and balanced game play(in my limited opinion) of the variants I've played.

You've probably already read all of this information on cyningstan's fantastic site and here, however, and it would have been more useful when you first posted. :P I just love the Tablut rules.

Re: Historical Evidence for 11 x 11 boards

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 10:57 am
by norsecode
Thanks for replying Tuireann,

Yes after reading the forum post here, I agree on the Saami rules. My own investigations had only led me so far, but after reading some of the forums posts here, I can see that the most logical conclusions have already been made by the members of this site who are clearly much more knowledgable than I. I haven't had much experience of playing this game as yet but I'm looking forward to putting some time in now :) .

I'll still be reading with much interest on the archaeological discoveries as they happen, and I'd like to see this game become more mainstream again. I feel like it is a part of shared cultural heritage that has been lost.