Backgammon Board

Backgammon set

The game is a race game and was popular in medieval Europe.

This game found on the Mary Rose was the forerunner of backgammon and was called a Tables Set. Eight poplar wood disc counters were found and a leather pouch for shaking the dice.

The game is a race game and was popular in medieval Europe. References to similar games have been found in the Middle East, France, Germany and Spain. It developed into the more sophisticated game we call Backgammon in the seventeenth century.

Along with this example of a game was found musical instruments and dice, to give a remarkable insight into the daily lives of the crew of the Mary Rose in 1545.

Quick Facts

  • Artefact number #81A5599
  • Found on The Mary Rose
  • Period Tudor
  • Date made 1545 (about)
  • Made of wood


  • This 'tabula' game board is made from oak (base boards, surround and pegs), poplar (counters), spruce/larch (darker inlay) and yew (lighter inlay). The two iron hingers have corroded away, and only the rebates remain to show their original position. There is no evidence for a catch. The board is missing one inlay piece.
  • This game's board was found in the Carpenter's cabin on board the Mary Rose.
  • Although only 8 counters survive, there would have been 15 light and 15 dark playing counters (usually black and white) called men, or stones. Moves were decided by players throwing two dice. Absorbing, complex and a combination of chance and skill - the games could be long in duration.
  • Eleven bone dice were excavated from the Mary Rose, also a game of merels or nine-men's morris, carved on the end of a small oak cask, and a single domino.

Did you know?

At least ten musical instruments were on board the Mary Rose when she sank. These include two fiddles, a bow, a shawm (wind instrument), three tabor pipes, one tabor (drum), and a probable tabor beater.

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