hist-games: Ancient Celtic games

Alex R. Kraaijeveld a.kraayeveld at ic.ac.uk
Wed Oct 29 01:24:26 PST 1997

Hi all, I'm new to this list and I stumbled across it while searching the
InterNet for info on the old Celtic games sometimes referred to as Celtic
'chess' although they're obviously something different.

I am in the process of collecting as much information on these games as I
can from a variety of sources. Throwing away all the unsubstantiated claims
about these games, here's where I am at the moment:

Tawlbyrdd: seems pretty clear that that was a Hnefatafl-variant on an 11x11
board; possibly with some variation in the number of pieces

Gwyddbwyll: Hnefatafl-variant?? Latrunculus-like game?? Something
altogether different??? I haven't found any solid clues so far

Brandubh: probably a small Hnefatafl-variant (one source gives 5+8 pieces
which would fit perfectly on a 7x7 board)

Buanfach: no clue whatsoever

Fidchell: Irish equivalent of the Welsh gwyddbwyll; no solid clues

Besides these names, I have come across the Scottish 'Ard-Ri', Manx
'Feeal', Cornish 'Goedhboell' and Breton 'Gwezboell'. The last three names
seem to be simply equivalent to Gwyddbwyll/Fidchell, but what about Ard-Ri?

The most reliable sources I have come across so far is an article from 1946
by MacWhite: Early Irish Board Games.

Is there anyone out there who can give me some more info, point me in the
right direction or get me in contact with people in this field? Or is this
simply what is known and nothing of significance is discovered since that
1946 article?

Thanks, Lex

Dr A.R. Kraaijeveld
NERC Centre for Population Biology
Imperial College, Silwood Park
Ascot, Berks. SL5 7PY
England, UK

tel: +44-1344-294470 / 294359
fax: +44-1344-873173
E-mail: a.kraayeveld at ic.ac.uk

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