Piece of whalebone

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From Bac Mhic Connain, North Uist

Postcard of Piece of whalebone.
© National Museums Scotland

Piece of whalebone

This piece of whalebone was found at Bac Mhic Connain on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. It was probably kept as raw material for carving into another object, such as a lid. The bone dates from sometime between 200 BC and 800 AD.

The object is from a vertebral disc (a segment of the spinal column) of a Cuvier's Beaked Whale, an uncommon species of whale.

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: 000-100-038-778-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.GNB 59
Date: Between 200 BC and 800 AD
Material: Bone, dorsal, cetacean
What: Plate
Who: Beveridge Collection
Where: Scotland, Inverness-shire, North Uist, Vallay, Bac Mhic Connain
Description: Dorsal plate of cetacean bone, from Bac Mhic Connain, 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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