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BBC Scotland's Sandy Bremner reports
"It's a dream for islanders who've campaigned hard for their return."
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Historic chessmen check in
Chessmen
The pieces are part of a collection insured for 3m
Viking treasure unearthed on a Scottish island has gone on display for the first time near the site where it was found.

The Lewis chessmen, found on the island 170 years ago, were placed in the care of the British Museum.

The pieces have been put on view at the Uig Community Centre on the west side of the island for one day only.


Tina Anne Murray
Tina Anne Murray: "Momentous occasion"
Their return was the fruit of a long-running campaign by islanders who have been anxious to see the pieces back on Lewis.

Tina Anne Murray, of the Uig Heritage Trust, described the day as a momentous occasion that many had thought would never actually come.

She added: "We are just delighted that the trustees of the British Museum have had the confidence in our small organisation and agreed to the loan.

'Special poignancy'

"I think there's a special poignancy in having them displayed here, so near the site where they lay hidden for so long."

Part of a collection insured for the sum of 3m, the most famous chess pieces in the world were brought to the centre under police escort.
chessman
The pieces were found 170 years ago

The exhibition coincided with a major conference charting the importance of the Western Isles in the Viking world.

The six pieces will remain on Lewis, at Stornoway museum, for the next six months.

One of Uig's residents, Dr John Hay, said he was glad to see their return.

He said: "The locals can see them and we really rejoice that they're home, even if it's for one day, they're welcome and we hope to see them again."

A spokesperson for the British Museum said the pieces could return for a second visit to the place they were found in the future.

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