hist-games: Daldos - an English Board

reid robert reidrobert7 at yahoo.fr
Tue Mar 30 03:53:00 PDT 2010

I was interested to read Ian Levingston's identification of a Daldos board scratched into a barrel top salvaged from the Mary Rose:


As he points out, this would appear to be the second instance of a board from England, if one accepts that a drawing in a thirteenth-century manuscript held at Trinity College also depicts a diagram for this type of game.

Thierry Depaulis ('An Arab game in the North Pole?', Board Game Studies, 4, 2001, pp. 77-82 [80]) concludes that the component Dal- in Daldos  'may be explained in the light of an old English word daly whose meaning was  “knucklebone”, “small piece of bone”, whence “die”'. Alternatively one could suggest the English word 'tally' - a wooden stick notched or 'scored' to keep a record of commercal transactions and game points. 'Tally-dice', in fact, would neatly characterise the two implements used in Daldos, while approximating phonetically to the Norwegian name.
If the game did indeed have some foothold in the British Isles it may be that there are other yet-to-be-identified examples of  Daldos-type boards (among Cathedral cloister etchings, for instance) as well as references in regional glossaries, dialect dictionaries etc. Now, at least we have a reason to be on the look-out for these!
Best wishes,

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