Cup from Clibberswick, Unst, Shetland

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Postcard of Cup from Clibberswick, Unst, Shetland.
© National Museums Scotland

Cup from Clibberswick, Unst, Shetland

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.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-136-634-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0035: Early Scottish Shelter - Life in the Prehistoric Home (multimedia essay)
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.HR 524
Date: Between 500 BC and 800 AD
Material: Bone, vertebra, cetacean
Dimensions: 3.50" H
What: Cup
Where: Scotland, Shetland, Unst, Haroldswick, Clibberswick
Description: Handled cup of cetacean bone, from Clibberswick, Unst, Shetland
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