Hnefatafl is an ancient Viking board game where an overwhelming force of raiding attackers clash in battle with the defending king and his loyal force of warriors. The game was highly appreciated by the Vikings who used it to perfect their strategies in war.
This Hnefatafl is based on the find in grave 581 in Birka, Sweden. We made the board for the Birka Museum's new exhibition about the grave, and studied the actual find at the Swedish History Museum. The grave belonged to a high-ranking warrior that also contained several weapons and two horses. It became a sensation in 2017 when DNA studies revealed that the warrior was a woman.
The board is made from wood with iron nails and reinforcements, and the pieces from cattle bone. The set also comes with three dice based on a find in the grave. Perhaps they were used when playing Hnefatafl. Rules for using them are included.
Link to the original find at the Swedish History Museum: http://mis.historiska.se/
Being a skilled player was held in such high esteem that it’s mentioned in several sagas, such as in the Orkeyinga Saga where Jarl Rögnvald Kali Kolsson tops his list of nine boasts with his skill at Hnefatafl.