Whalebone knife

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From Vallay, North Uist, Outer Hebrides

Postcard of Whalebone knife.
© National Museums Scotland

Whalebone knife

This whalebone knife was found at Vallay on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. It was possibly used as a skinning or dehairing knife, sometime between 200 BC and 800 AD.

The knife was carefully shaped from a piece of whalebone.

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: 000-100-039-123-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.GT 151
Date: Between 200 BC and 800 AD
Material: Bone; curved back; straight edge
Dimensions: 7.38" L
What: Implement / knife, skinning / knife, dehairing
Where: Scotland, Inverness-shire, North Uist, Vallay
Description: Bone implement, possibly a skinning or dehairing knife, from Vallay, North Uist
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