Friday, November 2, 2018

Leif Erikson in Uig

When I arrived in Uig (Lewis) last August, the first thing my wife and I did was visit the museum run by Commun Eachdraigh Uig, the Uig Historical Society. As we were walking in we passed a bust of a viking on a plinth. At first I thought it was a large version of one of the Lewis Chessmen, as statues of them appear in Uig every now and then.

As it happened, the night before we arrived on Lewis the bust was presented to the people of Uig by the Leif Ericson International Foundation. The statue commemorates Lief's probable visit to the Western Isles a thousand years ago. It is the final, in a series of statues they've commissioned over the past 20 years. As it turns out, the foundation is based only a few miles away from where I live in Seattle. I'd never heard of them, but I was very familiar with the large statue of Lief Erikson in Seattle that dates to 1962, and overlooks a large marina at the north end of town. There is a large population with Norse heritage in Seattle. Tens of thousands came here in the late 18th and early 20th century, because the environment reminded them of home, and there were lots of opportunities for work in fishing and logging. 

The Lewis chessmen are dated to the 1100s, but they could be off by 100 years. If so, maybe one of Leif's crewman lost the chess set found in the sands of Uig in 1831. Could Leif had been the model for the Berserker, or the Warder?

No comments:

Post a Comment