As I write this, we are entering the last hour of #InternationalWomensDay in the UK. Today, I wanted to flag up an amazing lady who I just couldn’t resist writing into The Chessmen Thief: Margrét the Adroit ( or Margrét hin haga), an Icelandic carver. She is mentioned in the Saga of Bishop Páll.
I have played slightly fast and loose with the timeline in my book – my events take place in the 1150s, while Margrét the Adroit is more likely to have been at the height of her fame in the early 13th century. Some have linked the Lewis Chessmen with the Icelandic carver and craftswoman working at the highest level. She was married to a churchman.
Archaeologists and historians have debated whether the chess pieces were created in Trondheim (there are parallels with local artwork and it is generally accepted as the most likely theory) or perhaps by this Icelander, Margrét, who carved in walrus ivory and was extraordinarily skilled.
I am lucky – I write fiction! The opportunity to include a woman at the heart of this origin story for the Lewis Chessmen was just too good. I created a fictional visit, so that Margrét would have found herself in Trondheim at the time of the commission.
Inclusion of legendary lady – check! One happy writer.