Carved stone ball

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found on Ben Tharsuinn, near Ardross, Ross-shire

Postcard of Carved stone ball.
© National Museums Scotland

Carved stone ball

This carved stone ball was found on Ben Tharsuinn near Ardross in Ross-shire. It dates from between 3200 and 2500 BC. Many functions have been suggested for these objects. Whatever their function, they were prestigious possessions, symbols of power.

The ball has been carved with four large, slightly projecting knobs. Carved stone balls have been found with as many as 160 knobs, but six is the most common number, followed by four.

Carved stone balls are distinctly Scottish objects, with over 425 known, all but a handful found in Scotland. Theories of their use include weapons or for use in games, but the balls are usually without damage. Other possibilities are for weighing, or for some ritual.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-376-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.AS 153
Date: Between 3200 and 2500 BC
Material: Stone:
Dimensions: 2.50" Dia
What: Ball, carved
Where: Scotland, Ross and Cromarty, Ardross, Ben Tharson
Description: Carved ball found on Ben Tharson, Ardross, Ross and Cromarty
  • Calder, Jenni. The wealth of a nation. Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland and Glasgow: Richard Drew Publishing, 1989, 18-9. 
  • Marshall, D.N. Carved stone balls. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 108 (1976-7), pp 40-72. 
  • Ritchie, Graham and Ritchie, Anna. Scotland. Archaeology and early history. London: Thames and Hudson, 1981, p 46.
    Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
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