Bone lid

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From Foshigarry, North Uist

Postcard of Bone lid.
© National Museums Scotland

Bone lid

This bone lid was found at Foshigarry on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. It was used sometime between 200 BC and 800 AD.

The lid was carved from a vertebral disc (a segment of the spinal column) of a sea mammal such as a whale or dolphin. In a rough line across its longest axis, four small holes whose purpose is not clear have been drilled.

People collected bone from stranded carcasses of whales, porpoises and dolphins. In the largely treeless north and west, whalebone was used as a substitute for wood. It was strong, dense and resilient, and came in very large sizes.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-038-686-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.GNA 192
Date: Between 200 BC and 800 AD
Material: Bone, intervertebral, cetacean; with four perforations
Dimensions: 4.63" - 5.19" D
What: Plate
Who: Beveridge Collection
Where: Scotland, Inverness-shire, North Uist, Foshigarry
Description: Intervertebral plate of cetacean bone with four perforations, from Foshigarry, North Uist
  • HallĂ©n, Ywonne. The use of bone and antler at Foshigarry and Bac Mhic Connain, two Iron Age sites on North Uist, Western Isles. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 124 (1994), pp 189-231, esp. pp 217-9. 
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