Подземный ход by DenisMox on Sketchfab

While exploring the secret chamber, the Vyborg Museum archaeologists discovered a clay brick with tracings of what appears to be a board game. The pattern, a kind of grid, was etched onto the brick prior to it being placed inside a bake oven, according to the History Blog.

The game played on the brick is actually very well known, and it dates back to the Roman Empire. It goes by several names, including “mill” and “cowboy checkers,” and it’s very reminiscent of Nine Men’s Morris—a game, which like checkers and chess, involves intersecting squares and small pieces, called “men,” that are engaged in combat, as the Moscow Times reports.


Writing in Newsweek, Katherine Hignett explains:

In the game, each player aims to claim the other’s men, much like the pieces in chess. When a player builds a “mill”—a row of three men—on the grid-like board, they are rewarded with an opponent’s game piece. Once a player is down to just two men, they are unable to form mills and their opponent claims victory.


The standard version of the game calls for nine total pieces, but other versions exist involving three, six, and 12 pieces (these alternate versions require different boards).

Vladimir Tsoi, the head of the Vyborg museum, said the medieval game board was “the most intriguing” find since excavations began earlier this summer, the Moscow Times reports. Last month, the team found a bag with dozens of early 19th century copper coins on the grounds of the castle.


Archaeologists started to explore this medieval fort back in the 1930s, but these early efforts weren’t very extensive. Viborg castle has been neglected over the years, both by archaeologists and by state officials. Moscow Times reports that local activists and international non-profits have been warning that the castle is falling to ruin. The good news is that the BRICS development bank (an association that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) is designating 1.8 billion rubles (over $25 million) to restore Vyborg castle.

[Vyborg Museum, Newsweek, History Blog, Moscow Times]