Tafl dates back to before 400 AD, and was played throughout England, Wales and Ireland. It remained popular until the 17th. century, when it was gradually replaced by chess.

The word tafl is probably derived from the Latin tabula, which also referred to a board game. Historical tafl boards could have anywhere from 49 (7X7) to 324 (18X18) cells or squares.

The squares were sometimes checkered, while other boards had only the centre and corner squares distinguished. Some tafl boards placed the pieces on the intersections of the lines rather than in the squares themselves. Others had holes for pegged pieces to be placed in.

This board is loosely based on a 10th. cent. one found in Ballinderry, Ireland The Ballinderry board had peg-holes, and two handles so that it could be held between two people. It used a 7X7 grid, although most tafl rules refer to either a 9X9 or 11X11 board.

Literary references to the game agree that the game was played by two people with an unequal number of playing pieces.