Linnaeus’s Game of Tablut and its Relationship to the Ancient Viking Game Hnefatafl
Ashton, S.E., John C.(Independent Scholar)
The Heroic Age: A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe, Vol.13 (2010)
This paper concerns Linnaeus’s 1732 work Iter Lapponicum and his important (though inadvertent) contributions to the field of Viking age archaeology. A journal entry from his publication contains a description of a Lapp board game called Tablut (also called Swedes & Muscovites), which later scholars realized was related to the Viking game of Hnefatafl.
In the year 1732, the young Swedish naturalist, Carolus Linnaeus, later known as Carl von Linné, the founder of taxonomy’s modern nomenclature scheme, traveled to Lapland in northern Sweden on a botanical expedition. While there, he recorded in his journal, not only the plant and animal life of this substantially unexplored part of Europe, but also the human life of the native Lapps, whose habits and customs he observed firsthand. That journal of his travels was published as Iter Lapponicum in 1732, containing entries in Swedish interspersed with sections in Latin (Linnaeus 1732, 147–148). The book was not published in English translation until 1811.