The Game of Eagles

A mystery strategy game comes back from the grave.

“And on a seat opposite to him, he beheld two auburn-haired youths playing at chess. He saw a silver board for the chess, and golden pieces thereon.”

“And beside a pillar in the hall, he saw a hoary-headed man, in a chair of ivory, with the figures of two eagles of ruddy gold thereon. Bracelets of gold were upon his arms, and many rings were on his hands, and a golden torque about his neck; and his hair was bound with a golden diadem. He was of powerful aspect. A chess-board of gold was before him, and a rod of gold, and a steel file in his hand. And he was carving out chess-men.”

The Dream of Macsen

Only two known copies of this game exist in the world: one in Colchester Castle, one with Alex Jones.

The Dream of Macsen is an ancient symbolic Welsh tale of a dream of Magnus Maximus, who marched on Rome with the British armies in a semi successful attempt to become Roman Emperor in 383 CE, apparently a popular past time for aspiring leaders from Britain.

The chess game is in Welsh called Gwyddbwyll, and in Irish called Fidchell. The game features in many ancient Celtic tales as a game of destiny, a game that through the playing the hero wins a wife, kingdoms or other significant prize. The game was so popular amongst Celtic nobility, nobody bothered to tell the world how it was played, so there are no rules written down. Contrary to what some may think, though the translations call it chess, it is no chess game.

I have managed to discover the rules, an interesting story that I shall write about in a future blog.


6 responses to “The Game of Eagles

  1. Do tell, can’t wait to find out how to play this. Does the board have 64 squares? An 8 x 8 would be a Square of Hermes. Since this is connected to Lug/lugh/Llew, I wondered if these squares had to do with longitude and latitude. The Welsh dictionary says a game like chess, but this is much older. What are the names of the game pieces or do they have names?

    • This game is 12 x 8 squares.

      I have given the pieces names, but there is no record in the writings of what they were called.

      The next blog will be of particular interest to you 🙂

  2. I’m really interested in the next one. I hope You have time for it soon. I had a dream once of something similar, I’m curious if it has any coherence with reality.

  3. Welsh is too hard to pronounce, let alone write! lol. One of the first stories I ever read is a series by Lloyd Alexander, “Taran Wanderer”. It is based on the ancient Welsh tale, the Mabinogian. Which I suppose would also be the root source of The Lord of the Rings. Interesting game, I’ve never heard of.

    • A lot of modern fantasy spin off of the old stories like the Mabinogian. In Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings all those wizards are Merlin, who spins off from Druids, who spin off from shamans, who are the “Bridge” or ancient Bear archetype of the cave paintings.

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