A game on the edge: an attempt to unravel the Gordian Knot of tafl games

Duggan, Eddie (2020) A game on the edge: an attempt to unravel the Gordian Knot of tafl games. Discussion Paper. De Gruyter. (Submitted)

Full text not available from this repository.


This paper offers a discussion of the various asymmetric games within the tafl family: hnefatafl, tablut, brandub, tawllbwrdd and alea evangelii, identifying various problems and misunderstandings that have accrued around these games. Beginning with a review of the terminology used to refer to board games and to games of chance in general (alea; tæfl) as well as the nomenclature applied to specific games (tabula; hnefatafl), the paper discusses the distribution of selected examples of tafl-type game boards in the archaeological record (e.g. the Ballinderry gaming board) and in literature (e.g. alea evangelii in Oxford Corpus Christi MS 122), identifies Israel the Grammarian (c. 900–c. 970) as a likely co-inventor of the alea evangelii and concludes with an appraisal of Linnaeus’s problematic account of tablut during his controversial expedition around the Gulf of Bothnia in 1732 that, when probed, seems to raise questions about the falsification of some of the data recorded in his journal. The 1811 translation of Linnaeus’s journal also generated a significant misunderstanding about the rules of the game, subsequently amplified by H. J. R. Murray in his two monumental studies (1913, 1952). The paper concludes with the observations that alea evangelii may be an aide memoire for students learning the Eusebian canon tables rather than a game per se, and that more remains to be learned about the exact circumstances of Linnaeus’s observation of tablut.

abstract games, alea evangelii, ancient games,anglo saxon games, board game studies, board game, board games, brandub, English games, game history, game rules, games, hnefatafl, irish games, Linnaeus, rules, sami games, strategy games, tablut, Tafl, tawllbwrdd, Viking game, welsh games

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Subjects: A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship The Humanities
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DL Northern Europe. Scandinavia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
K Law > KD England and Wales
L Education > LA History of education
L Education > LT Textbooks
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
Q Science > QK Botany
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Eddie Duggan
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2020 08:05
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2020 08:05
URI: http://oars.uos.ac.uk/id/eprint/1264

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item