Ballinderry Tafl Board

Balinderry Tafl Board

The photograph at the left is of a painted plaster reproduction of a wooden gameboard found in 1932 in a bronze-age lake-dwelling at Ballinderry, near Moate, West Meath, Ireland. The original wooden board is dated to the 10th century AD - a time when Vikings sailed back and forth between Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and the British Isles.

The original wooden board is 26.5cm long x 17cm wide x 2.5cm thick, and the reproduction has been made with these dimensions. The raised 1.5cm border is sectioned into 8 bands of geometric etchings and suggests to some authorities that the original board might have been manufactured on the Isle of Man. Notice that at opposite ends of board there are two protruding sculptured heads, one of a woman, the other of a man. These serve as handles and a hole on back of female head is used for hanging the board on a hook.

The Ballinderry board is the smallest tafl board that has been found, in that the playing surface has a seven by seven matrix; however, this reproduction is not a true reproduction of the original board since it does not have a seven by seven matrix. Instead, the manufacturer has used the general design of the board, but produced a board with 20 holes arranged in rows around a central hole. It can be observed that there are 2 rows of 3 holes and 3 rows of 5 holes. There is a semi-circular groove in each corner of the playing surface. The pattern of these holes is for the game of Fox & Geese, a related type of "war game" fought between unequal forces.

Board with plastic pegs

Since it is obvious that this gameboard required the use of "pegs" as playing pieces, but none were discovered when the board was unearthed, the manufacturer included a number of plastic pegs so buyers can play the game. There are 25 green and one white mushroom shaped peg, 7cm in diameter x 1.5cm high.

This reproduction was acquired in 1981 from the Cash and Carry Shop in Dublin, Ireland. The reproduction was manufactured by the Wild Goose Studio, Kinsale, Ireland - a group which produces a range of craft products based upon historic Irish content.

Last update March 2, 2010