Highlands & Islands

Lewis chessmen could be returned

Lewis Chessmen
The chessmen were unearthed in the Western Isles in 1831

Talks to return at least some of the Lewis chessmen to the Western Isles have been described as "very positive".

The area's MP Angus MacNeil made the comment following a meeting with the deputy director of the British Museum, where 82 of the chessmen are housed.

They discussed the possibility that the intricately carved pieces could feature as part of a display in the redeveloped Lews Castle or Museum nan Eilean.

The chessmen were found buried on Lewis in 1831.

They are thought to have belonged to a 12th Century merchant who visited Lewis as he journeyed from Ireland to Norway.

Mr MacNeil has previously called for most, if not all, the pieces to be returned to the islands.

However, in March the then-UK Culture Secretary Margaret Hodge said keeping them in London allowed many people to share in their history.

Eleven of the chessmen are currently held by the National Museum of Scotland.

Mr MacNeil said moving the pieces to Lewis would have a "measureable" benefit for the islands, but only a marginal loss effect on the British Museum.

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has also lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for all the pieces to be returned to Scotland.

Twenty four of the pieces from the London collection and six from Edinburgh are currently on a 16-month tour of Scotland, including Stornoway.

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