• June 15, 2012

News from Celtic Press

A number of pieces of an historic chess set are planned to be returned to their home in Scotland from the British Museum in London.

Six pieces of the Lewis Chessmen will be repatriated to Scotland on permanent loan to the Museum and Archive at Lews Castle when it opens in 2014 after a £13.5m revamp. Previously the British Museum has refused to agree for the Chessmen to be returned, despite long term campaigns run by the Celtic League and individual Scottish politicians such as Scottish National Party (SNP) Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil.

Previously Scottish culture minister Linda Fabiani was sent to London to make the case for the return of all 82 pieces of the Lewis Chessmen that are currently held by the British Museum, but the Museum refused arguing that the return of the pieces would lead to further demands to return many other artefacts to Scotland that are being held at the Museum. In 2010 the British Museum agreed for 29 of the pieces to tour Scotland, which saw huge numbers of people visiting the priceless artefacts. Mr MacNeil has argued that the Chessmen, if put on display in the Isles of Lewis of Scotland near where the pieces were originally found in Uig, would give a massive boost to the local economy. Minister Linda Fabiani said:

“I am delighted that six of the Lewis Chessmen will be making a return, a Homecoming, to the Isle of Lewis where they were first discovered. It is particularly appropriate that this is happening in 2014 – our second Year of Homecoming.

“The Chessmen are a significant part of our culture and an important symbol of European civilisation.

In 2011 the Celtic League wrote to the Scottish Government urging it to keep up the pressure on the British Museum to return the artefacts after the Government expressed a desire for all 93 pieces to be reunited again in Scotland. Perhaps Scotland’s success in getting some of the Lewis Chessmen pieces returned will spur on the Governments and authorities in the other Celtic countries to campaign for the return of their stolen national treasures that are bing held elsewhere. For more inforation about Celt artefacts that are being held ouside of the Celtic countries visit https://celticartefacts.yolasite.com/

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For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot,
General Secretary,
Celtic League
Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666

The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.

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