Mount and whetstone

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from Balnakeil, Durness, Sutherland and Cnip, Valtos, Uig, Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Postcard of Mount and whetstone.
© National Museums Scotland

Mount and whetstone

This picture shows a bronze mount found in a Viking boy's grave at Balnakeil near Durness in Sutherland in 1991, and a whetstone found in a woman's grave at Cnip at Valtos at Uig, on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The graves date between 850 and 925.

No stone survived in the Balnakeil burial, but the object has been interpreted as a capping for a whetstone, based on a few similar examples from England and Wales. It is pierced, perhaps to fasten in the hole of a whetstone such as that found at Cnip.

Whetstones were indispensable to Viking men and women, as they were used to sharpen tools and weapons. They occur in a number of shapes and sizes in both male and female graves. Some, like this one, could have hung from a belt.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-099-782-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0036: Kiloran Bay Viking Burial (multimedia essay)
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.IL 847
Date: 900 - 1000
Mount: between 850 and 900; Whetstone: between 875 and 925
Material: Quartzite, fine grained; with perforated terminal
Dimensions: 92 mm L x 12 mm W x 6 mm Th
What: Whetstone
Who: Mr and Mrs Maclean (Collector)
Where: Scotland, Ross and Cromarty, Lewis, Uig, Valtos (Kneep Head)
Description: Pendant whetstone of fine grained quartzite, with a perforated terminal, from a Viking grave group from Kneep Head, Valtos, Uig, Isle of Lewis, 900 - 1000
  • Graham-Campbell, James and Batey, Colleen E. Vikings in Scotland. An Archaeological Survey. Edinburgh: University Press, 1998, pp 140-2. 
  • Welander, R.D.E., Batey C. and Cowie, T.G. 1987 
  • Ritchie, Anna. Viking Scotland London: B.T. Batsford Ltd/Historic Scotland, 1993, p. 87.
    Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
  • Welander, R.D.E, Batey, Colleen and Cowie, T.G. A Viking burial from Kneep, Uig, Isle of Lewis. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 117 (1987), 149-174.
    Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
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