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The Lewis chess pieces

These medieval chess pieces from the Scottish island of Lewis are among our most popular collections. They give us fascinating insights into the international connections of western Scotland and the growing popularity of chess in medieval Europe.

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Unmask the Lewis chess pieces

Welcome to the world of the Lewis chess pieces! Discover all there is to know about these mysterious figures in this interactive resource.

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Top 10 things to see and do

Your journey of discovery starts here...

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Make your own Lewis chess piece

The Lewis chess pieces live in the National Museum of Scotland. Colour them in or cut out and make your own chess piece here.

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Tour of the Kingdom of the Scots Gallery

Join curator Lydia Prosser for a guided virtual tour of our Kingdom of the Scots gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.

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Scottish History and Archaeology galleries

Our Scotland galleries guide you from the Palaeolithic era to the present day, from the earliest cultures to space age science, prehistory to pop culture.

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For Teachers: Primary Resources

Explore a range of activities suitable for pupils working at Early, First and Second Levels including: - Mandarin - Writing a story - Maths and numeracy

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Elements: Earth

Investigate different aspects of life on Earth, through fascinating fossils, tools for turning the soil and pieces of art reflecting the devastating effects of pollution on our planet.

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Carved oak doors associated with Mary of Guise

When medieval buildings in Blyth’s Close off Edinburgh’s Castlehill were demolished, these pieces - associated with Mary of Guise - were rescued.

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Korean lacquer box

Two dragons wrap themselves around the exterior of this Korean lacquer box, their two heads meeting gracefully in the centre. The dragon decoration on this circular box was applied using the technique called najeonjang, where pieces of mother-of-pearl are inlaid into the black lacquer surface.

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Coronation ampulla of Charles I

This curious object, one of the earliest surviving pieces of Scottish-made gold, was used at the Scottish coronation of Charles I, held some eight years after his coronation in London.

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Woolly mammoth tusks

Two pieces of tusk in our collection show that some woolly mammoths made their home in Scotland, while another provides early evidence of mammoths in North America.

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Make and Create: Get hands-on with craft ideas

Get hands-on with craft ideas inspired by our collections.

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Jewellery designed by Grete Prytz Kittelsen

This necklace of interlinking geometric shapes came in three colour combinations of green, blue and white.

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Coral necklace

This opulent deep red coral and 18 carat gold necklace was created by Yazzie Johnson and Gail Bird.

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Strathmore Meteorite

On 3 December 1917, a little after 13:00, a large fireball was seen to cross southern Scotland. A short time later, an explosion was heard and four objects were seen or heard to crash to the ground around the towns of Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie in the Strathmore area of central Scotland.

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Down to Earth

Celebrating the centenary of the Strathmore Meteorite, this display reunited the four fragments for the first time.

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Museum Maker: How to make an owl badge

We’ve teamed up with upcycling experts Ostrero and artist Bryony Knox to create a design for a cool owl badge – made form a fizzy drinks can! Try it out today.

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Newbigging Jug

The jug is a rare example of elaborately decorated brown stoneware.

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Our Japanese collection

Explore highlights of our Japanese collection, from tiny netsuke to cutting edge designs, superb ceramics to Ainu artefacts.

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Make Your Own Celtic Torc

The Iron Age Celts loved to show off their wealth and importance by wearing fancy gold necklaces called torcs. Copy their look by making your own – it's blingtastic!

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Waka Taua

Maori craftsmanship and museum conservation bring to life one of our most unusual and intriguing objects.

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Freddy the Robot

Find out about Freddy the robot developed in the 1970s at the University of Edinburgh and explore how robot technology has changed from early automota to assisting surgery and exploring Mars.

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Museum Maker: Make a champion’s rosette

Summer is usually the season for gala days and rural shows, including our own Heavy Horse Show. Celebrate the champions you know – family, friends or even pets - by making them a personalised rosette!

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Torrs pony cap

This unique decorated Iron Age cap would have adorned a highly prized pony.

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Scotland's Early Silver on film

Discover the story of Scotland’s early silver and how this precious metal helped to shape the first kingdoms of Scotland.

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Our Chinese collection

From ancient ceramics to imperial jade, oracle bones to contemporary propaganda posters, our Chinese collection spans over four thousand years and includes around 11,000 items.

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Our Korean collection

This rich collection focuses mainly on the Joseon period, Korea's last dynasty which lasted over five centuries. However, earlier periods and contemporary works are also represented in a collection that spans over 2,000 years.

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Cup and cover by Malcolm Appleby

This striking ceremonial standing cup and cover was created especially for the Museum by virtuoso silversmith Malcolm Appleby.

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Cockcroft-Walton generator

The Cockcroft-Walton generator was developed at the University of Cambridge in the early 1930s to accomplish the first artificial splitting of the atom.

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Schmidt telescope

Find out how this revolutionary telescope was invented, and how it found a home at the National Museum of Scotland.

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Calcite crystal

This Calcite crystal is an excellent example of a complex doubly terminated scalenohedral crystal.

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Art of Glass on film

Preparing for the Art of Glass exhibition at National Museum of Scotland.

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Moroccan water basin

This unique water basin, shaped like a citadel, was made by Moroccan potters, probably as a diplomatic gift, in the 19th century.

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Native American jewellery

Navajo and Pueblo jewellery from the Southwest United States is denoted by its use of turquoise and silver.

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Pocket watch from the shipwreck of the Swan

Salvaged from a shipwreck, this pocket watch has lain under water for over 300 years. But now a high-tech process has uncovered the hidden secrets of this rusty artefact.

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Vase by Hamish Dobbie

This beautiful piece was commissioned from Scottish silversmith Hamish Dobbie by the P&O Makower Trust for the Making and Creating gallery.

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St Ninian's Isle treasure

Unearth a fascinating Pictish treasure trove.

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Necklace and bracelet designed by Charles de Temple

Charles de Temple was a pioneer in the method of melting and transforming gold into abstract forms.

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Tea service of the Emperor Napoleon

This great silver-gilt tea service was created for the Emperor Napoleon and his second wife, the Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, shortly after their wedding in 1810.

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The Ann Paludan image library of historical Chinese sculptures

The Ann Paludan Photographic Archive consists of more than 10,000 photographsof historical Chinese sculptures, and represents over thirty years of site visits and research by writer and art historian Ann Paludan (1928–2014).

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Taguchi Fumiki's Wound Around choker

This acquisition by contemporary Japanese artist, Taguchi Fumiki, has been laboriously carved to sparkle like diamonds.

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Wedgwood plates by Eduardo Paolozzi

These rare Wedgwood plates were designed by the famous Scottish artist and sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.

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Grand Gallery, Collecting Stories and Window on the World

Your journey from Scotland to the world begins in the Grand Gallery, one of Scotland's most beautiful spaces.

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Awesome Bricks at home

Recreate your favourite museum objects and places using the LEGO you have at home!

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Jean Jenkins collection

Delve into the diverse collection of pioneering ethnomusicologist Jean Jenkins.

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Vine arm

This beautiful botanical prosthetic arm was designed by Sophie de Oliveira Barata for model Kelly Knox.

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Articulated Necklace by Dorothy Hogg

This articulated silver necklace encapsulating a large labradorite disc is one of Dorothy Hogg’s earliest works (1969-70).

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Traprain Law treasure

Buried around the middle of the 5th century AD, this hoard of Roman silver from Traprain Law in East Lothian is the largest known from outside the Roman Empire.

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