University of Reading archaeologists have uncovered an ancient Anglo-Saxon board game piece while excavating a royal complex at Lyminge, Kent.
It is believed the piece would have been used for a game similar to backgammon or draughts.
The discovery marks the first of this type to be found since the Victorian period and it is the first ever piece to be discovered in a ‘gaming' setting, an Anglo-Saxon Royal Hall.
Dr Gabor Thomas from the University of Reading's Department of Archaeology said: "Our excavation is providing an unprecedented picture of life in an Anglo-Saxon royal complex. Gaming, along with feasting, drinking, and music, formed one of the key entertainments of the Anglo-Saxon mead-hall as evoked in the poem Beowulf.
"The discovery of Anglo-Saxon gaming-pieces and gaming-boards has previously been restricted to male burials, particularly those of the Anglo-Saxon elite. To find such a well preserved example in the hall, where such board games were actually played, is a wonderfully evocative discovery."
The Lyminge Archaeological Project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and supported by project partners Kent Archaeological Society and staff from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust.
The final year of the dig begins next summer.