Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Lewis locals

No, I'm not going to psychoanalyse Graham's friends who I met over dinner one night.  I'm thinking about the locals around Uig.  Isn't that a great placename?  It's meaning, thought to be derived from Old Norse, is a disappointment, being simply bay or inlet.

I was fascinated by the huge wooden carved chessmen that appeared by the roadside. There's lots of information in google land about the original Uig Chessmen - Discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hevrides, they may constitute some of the few complete, surviving medieval chess sets, although it is not clear if a set as originally made can be assembled from the pieces. When found, the hoard contained 93 artifacts: 78 chess pieces, 14 tablemen and one belt buckle. Today, 82 pieces are owned and usually exhibited by the British Museum in London, and the remaining 11 are at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The Uig Community Council commissioned  Stephen Heyward to design some wooden replicas to place on the machair at Ardroil near the spot where the chessmen were found.

I think they need an information plaque to explain what they represent.  They seemed incongruous to me sitting as they did by themselves close to the road, larger than life, miles from anywhere.

 Towards the end of the road, the locals were a lot more warmblooded.

They paid no attention to us, there was no doubt about it, we were expected to give way to them.  They were moving sedately down the road with purpose.  We stopped, it was obvious they had no intention of doing so.  They politely and quietly walked past the car, ignoring us.  Beautiful creatures!

These folk weren't going anywhere.  They were put there to entertain and I guess they will stay there until a storm whisks them away.


  1. What an interesting part of the world I wonder how the chessmen have not been carved or marked. Too fart out for vandals i guess. And I agree that an information marker is needed.

  2. Oh! Pat from the Isle of Lewis told me to look out for the chessmen at the British Museum and I have a few photos of them! Can you imagine the person finding them?

  3. The giant chessmen would impress me. I like the look of the landscape. It reminds me of the prairie where I was raised.

  4. The chessmen are fascinating, and i love the look of the cattle!

  5. I just love these photos, the statues look sort of viking I think?

  6. All this and rabbit proof flowers as well.

  7. I have a replica of one of the Lewis chessmen (a bishop) that my brother bought years ago in the British Museum souvenir shop. Have you read the Lewis trilogy by Peter May? It strikes me I don't really know anything about your taste in literature. I suspect though, that if you had read The Chessmen (3rd in that series) you would immediately have thought of that when seeing those sculptures. That's all I'm going to say, as the books are detective/mystery novels...

  8. It's just slightly strange seeing a post on Lewis written and photographed by a friend from the other side of the earth. I don't think I photographed any of the chessmen this time and I didn't even know about the ones near the (distinctly unphotogenic) distillery.


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