$35.00

The ancient game of Nine Man Morris is now recreated here in classic red oak.  The game is also known as Nine Men’s Morris, Mill, Mills, The Mill Game, Merels, Merrills, Merelles, Marelles, Morelles and Ninepenny Marl in English. The game has also been called Cowboy Checkers and was once printed on the back of checkerboards.

The board is approximately 9" by 12" by 3/4" thick. This two player game comes with a total of 18 marbles, nine for each player in contrasting colors. A bag to hold the marbles, the history of the game, and the rules are included.

In terms of play, it kind of reminds me of a combat Tic-Tac-Toe in that players are trying to form ‘mills’- three of their own marbles in a row horizontally or vertically – in order to capture an opponent’s marble of their choice. The game is played in two separate phases (with an optional third) so players will employ subtly different strategies for the different phases of the game. Specific rules for play are included with purchase.  

The origin of Nine Man Morris isn't exactly known. A board for the game was found cut into the roofing slabs of the temple at Kurna in Egypt (circa 1400BCE). However since other carvings from a later period are also found there, the game itself cannot be specifically dated to that time.  The famous Roman poet Ovid mentioned the game in 8 CE saying:
There is another game divided into as many parts as there are months in the year. A table has three pieces on either side; the winner must get all the pieces in a straight line. It is a bad thing for a woman not to know how to play, for love often comes into being during play.

Popularity of the game spread north (I’m guessing with the Romans and their trading partners), through Europe, making it at least as far as the Celts and the Vikings. The Vikings would have this game carved on the underside of their food boards, so that after eating they could relax with a nice game to play. Game boards have been found carved into the cloister seats in English cathedrals at Canterbury, Gloucester, Norwich, Salisbury, and Westminster Abbey. Shakespeare also mentions the game specifically in his 16th century work A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act II, Scene I). In some countries, the design of the 9 man Morris board’s design was given special significance as a symbol of protection from evil. To the ancient Celts the Morris Square was sacred. At the center was a symbol for regeneration and emanating out from it were the four cardinal directions, the four elements, and the four winds.

Please note that the game that you see in the pictures will not be the exact game that you receive. While the board will be solid red oak, the picture is just one of the many I have produced. I have literally made hundreds of these. The board in the picture may not be the exact board that you receive; the wonders of nature will produce different patterns in the grain as well as slight variations in color. Also the particular colors of the marbles are subject to change without notice. This game uses 5/8" diameter target marbles. Warning. Choking hazard. Not intended for children under 5 years.

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