Traditional Board Games

A Time for Play

Hnefatafl (no backdrop)

Here at Cyningstan we want to spread our enthusiasm for the traditional board games that have entertained people not just for centuries, but for millennia. These are games that you can make yourself, usually using simple pieces, and without restrictions of copyright or patent. Many of them are easy to learn, but difficult to master, providing a life time of amusement for people through the ages. It is no wonder that they have lasted so long!

Our activities are threefold. We provide information about many games, in the form of pages to read on this site and leaflets to print. We provide simple computer versions to play in your web browser. And for those who want to take their play away from the computer, we make and sell wooden games for you to play.

The catalogue of games we provide information about spans thousands of years. The oldest games can be traced back to about about 3000 B.C. The newest date from around A.D. 1900. We do not cover newer games than that because, as well as copyright issues that affect many of them, the sheer number of games published in the 20th century does not allow us to make anything like a complete survey. For similar reasons, we do not aim to provide information about proprietary games before 1900.

So now you know what we are about, feel free to browse the site, to shop, to play, to learn, and if you have any questions for us, please get in touch!


Dear Damian

I am organising a conference on Chess and Society on 5/6 December at Kensington Olymoia as part of the chess festival. For one strand, we are examining how board games have been used, who uses them and why. Would you be interested to contribute to the conference? We also have some spaces for exhibitors (free).


John - 13:04, 24/08/2015

i have a registered design and prototype for a 'new version' of a very old game. i am stuck indoors with MS so I can't travel far.i asked wyverns lair at the expo but they haven't bothered replying, so do you know anyone i could offer/show it to who might take it further and make us all some [ or a lot ] of money as i can't afford to pay out any more. thanks for reading and hope you can help.Ivan,

Ivan Kilborn - 07:18, 13/04/2016

Hello Ivan, and thanks for commenting! That sounds like an interesting project you have. Would your game be factory-made? The games of my own design have all been hand-made, so for me it's just been a case of making up a batch at a time.

I'm not sure about factory-made games and published games, though. I did try contacting Shannon Games in Scotland but didn't receive a reply. A good source of advice may be the forums on You'll get plenty of encouragement, but I imagine they'll also point out that it's very difficult to make good money out of game design!

Damian Walker - 20:00, 13/04/2016

Why don't you add pallanguzhi, an Indian game in the mancala family? Very good and useful site!

Ashwin M Iyer - 12:35, 22/05/2017

Hi Damian.

I am in the middle of writing a new website on ancient board games:

I bought 3 of your books on Amazon and I am really impressed with your work. I would like to include your rules of play for the games that I am writing about. I am also including links to your website and your books. 

Please email me offline. I would like to continue a discussion about game rules, etc...



Eli Gurevich - 01:51, 11/10/2017

This is a shot in the dark but maybe someone out there knows something.

I am looking for some help with identifying a norse era gameboard. I found interesting 5x5 gameboard with a design that is commonly mistaken for hnefatafl (namely the Ockelbo: Picture Stone). Anyone have any information about it? heres a link to the find.

Lopt'r - 18:42, 21/11/2017

Note to comment 21.11.2017: The game board is not original. This is the Skamby find, where 23 gaming pieces for hnefatafl were found. You may find an article about it online.

Morten Lille├Âren - 20:19, 29/01/2019

Thank you Damian for for doing this wonderful work!

Ari - 18:21, 28/05/2021

I am Patxi Angulo, from Basque Country, I have a website ( on games in Basque language. Now I am writing about hnefatafl and I want to use your texts as a basis. I request your permission. On the other hand, I have grouped all hnefatafl games into one group. I doubt how to call this group "tafl games" or "hnefatafl games". I found both in the books. Thank you. Patxi Angulo

Patxi Angulo Martin - 18:01, 10/11/2021

New Comment

Yes No