It would have been a very expensive toy, expertly crafted and imported across the Channel – and archaeologists say it provides a glimpse of the luxurious life of Anglo-Saxon nobles in 7th-century Kent.
The little gaming piece is the only one discovered at an Anglo-Saxon habitation site, although many cruder examples have been found in graves. It is the first piece of such quality found since the excavation of a princely grave in Buckinghamshire in the 1880s.
"This piece comes from a high-end – Harrods – backgammon set," the Reading University archaeologist Gabor Thomas said. "Not only high-end but quite possibly Italian – Ferrari – high-end, as the best parallels outside England are from the 6th-century Lombard kingdom. If such pieces are indeed of Lombardic manufacture, then the implication is that the kings of Kent enjoyed the latest fashions in gaming culture, courtesy of their far-reaching continental contacts."