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Saint Francis DeSales

Hnefatafl {a Viking Game}

We have been having fun playing with Steven's birthday present from me, a handmade Hnefatafl game.
This game was originally named "tafl", which was Old Norse for "table,""board," however, Hnefatafl became the preferred term for the game in Scandinavia by the end of the Viking Age, to distinguish it from other board games, such as Sk├íktafl (chess), Kvatrutafl (Tables) and Halatafl (Fox games), as these became known. The game spread everywhere the Vikings traveled, including Iceland, Britain, Ireland, and Lapland. Hnefatafl was mentioned in several of the medieval sagas.

Although the size of the board and the number of pieces varied, all games involved a 2:1 ratio of pieces, with the lesser side having a king-piece which starts in the center.  The king's objective is to escape to the board's periphery or corners, while the greater force's objective was to capture him. I found it interesting to learn that Linnaeus, the Swedish Botanist that gave us the Classification system, wrote down the first definitive rules of the game in 1732 from an expedition he took to LaplandAround 1960 Milton Bradley published Swords and Shields, which was essentially the same game. We bought our version from the Etsy shop of Glapsvidur.


Rules for the game can be found at Hnefatafl-King's Table.

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3 comments:

  1. Oh, how wonderful! It looks so authentic - I love it!

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  2. I want one! It's so pretty.

    I need to double check exact timing of Vikings, because I don't want to be pinning all the posts I've found on them to the wrong place.........

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  3. That's really cool! Jo-Jo and I have been reading about King Alfred (lots of Viking plundering) and Viking Tales. She'd love this.

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