Victorian protective chess pieces discovered in Lincolnshire barn

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Victorian protective chess pieces discovered in Lincolnshire barn

With its vast footprint and storied history, Lincolnshire is no stranger to agroecological discoveries. The latest find has seen two early nineteenth century chess pieces found in a barn.

The Queen and Bishop figures date back from around 1850 and were used as protective amulets. They were fund hidden in a wooden beam in an old barn in a village near Burgh Le Marsh.

“This is such an interesting discovery,” said archaeologist Dr. Adam Daubney, from Lincolnshire County Council.

“We know that in the 1800s, people used to place artefacts at boundaries and thresholds of properties to help ward off evil spirits. These tended to be things like shoes, miniature bibles or mummified cats. We haven’t seen chess pieces before.

“The pieces were found in the beam which was over the main access point of the barn, so I think these have been purposely selected and placed to help keep the occupiers and their livestock safe.

“It seems likely that the praying Bishop and Queen – the latter which might have served the role of Mary – were carefully selected from the chess set as pieces that might have particular spiritual power to ward off evil.”

The chess pieces are made out of plaster of Paris or crushed stone and were probably dipped in resin.

Adam added: “These were found by the property owners when they were undertaking renovations of their barn.

“I’d ask members of the public or builders, if they are starting a renovation project, if they find anything unusual to please get in touch.”