Hnefnatafl – The Viking Board Game

This Viking Game must rank as one of history’s great board games. It was at its most popular during the Dark Ages in Northern Europe. This was a period when very few records were kept and when populations were always moving. Like so much of the history of the Dark Ages our knowledge of the Viking Game is patchy. The mystery of the game is now half solved as a result of archaeological research.

The game was popular in the Viking homelands in Scandinavia as early as 400 AD and was carried by the Vikings to the lands they conquered. Over the centuries the game developed and different versions of the board have been found by archaeologists in sites from Ireland to the Ukraine.

Occasionally referred to in manuscripts the game was known as Hnefatafl which means literally “king’s table”.

Its decline began in the 11th century as chess grew in popularity. It soon lingered on only in remote country districts. Hnefatafl was last recorded as being played in Wales in 1587 and in Lappland in 1723.

Read more about it at Wikipedia.

This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål

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