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Cup from Clibberswick, Unst, Shetland

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Cup from Clibberswick, Unst, Shetland
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This whalebone cup was found at Clibberswick on Unst in Shetland. It was a simple, everyday object used sometime between 500 BC and 800 AD.

The cup has been made by hollowing out the vertebra (a segment of the spinal column) of a 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.

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