During an excavation of the backyard of Wallingford Museum, a small carving was uncovered. At first, the archaeologists thought it was just a carving of a cat. On further inspection, however, it turned out to be a chess piece carved from an antler. It dates back to the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, just a couple hundred years after the Norman conquest of Britain and the Bayeux tapestry. There are only fifty chess pieces in all of England. This is one of them.
It’s easily the smallest chess piece ever found in the area. Most other pieces are double the size, the Oxford Times says. The piece is a bishop. What does this tell us about the history of Wallingford? Well, the piece is so small that the other pieces must’ve been absolutely tiny. Their owner was probably a wealthy gentleman living in a castle in the area. Or, perhaps, he’d lost it on a trip. It’s not unlikely. Wallingford had once been an important royal castle, and many rich people used to frequent the area.
Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that the other chess set will be unearthed at all. But visitors can see the chess piece and other artifacts on display at Wallingford Museum.