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From Unstan, Orkney

Postcard of Bowl.
© National Museums Scotland


This ceramic bowl is one of a number of pots found in a chambered cairn at Unstan on Orkney. It was placed as a grave gift inside the tomb, and probably contained an offering of food or drink. The bowl dates from between 3400 and 2900 BC.

The large globular bowl is undecorated and restored. It is of fine black fabric, surface burnished, but mostly scorched to a buff colour from a fire lit in the tomb, probably during its use as a tomb.

Many of Scotland's early farming communities buried their dead in imposing communal tombs - stone chambers, covered with mounds of earth or stone, linked to the outside of the mound by a passage or forecourt. The tombs were used over several generations.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-035-185-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.EO 141
Date: Between 3400 and 2900 BC
Material: Ceramic; plain
Dimensions: 9.00" D
What: Pottery / bowl
Where: Scotland, Orkney, Unstan
Description: Large plain bowl from Unstan, Orkney
  • Davidson, J.L. and Henshall, A.S. The Chambered Cairns of Orkney. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1989. 
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