Medieval Norwegians Liked To Cheat At Dice

Samuel Reason | April 16th, 2018

Recently a specially designed dice was found in Norway: it did not have a number one or a number two. Looks like a fixed dice to do some cheating in gambling, but the real stunner was that this wooden dice was 600 years old!

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A specially designed dice for cheating in gambling dice games were found in a medieval era street excavation in Vagsbunnen in Bergen. It seems this dice owner liked to gamble but did not like to lose. Without a 1 or 2, it raises the possibilities of rolling a higher number, giving the gambler way better odds. Of course, the price for cheating at the time? We can only assume this could have ended up being quite violent if caught.

Over the years in Bergen many medieval dice have been found, giving the impression that Norwegians definitely loved to gamble dice. This cheating dice is special because it has two fives and two fours. There is a possibility it could have been part of a different type of game, but as no other dice like this has ever been found. Historians suspect the more likely scenario was to cheat.

Potentially in a game where fours and fives were extremely favorable to roll, betting was banned in 1276 in Bergen. But this did not deter anyone from gambling, dice gambling is pure luck so people tended to like it over other games where skill was involved.

This particular cheating dice was found in a street that dates from the 1400s, in an area with many pubs and inns where gambling would definitely have been likely. A theory is the gambler was scared he may be caught and threw the dice away. What the actual punishment for cheating in gambling was at the time remains unclear, but if we think to the type of bar games that happen today. There is no doubt it would have ended in a drunken bar brawl.

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