Carved stone ball

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Postcard of Carved stone ball.
© National Museums Scotland

Carved stone ball

The place where this carved stone ball was found is not known. 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 of granitic stone was carved with six knobs. Carved stone balls have been found with as many as 160 knobs, but six is the most common number. This one is unfinished.

Carved stone balls are distinctly Scottish objects, with over 425 known, all but a handful found in Scotland. They were made first by roughing out a sphere, and then chipping away to create the raised knobs and patterns. They were made from a variety of types of stone, some easily carved but others requiring great skill to work.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-166-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 124
Date: Between 3200 and 2500 BC
Material: Granitic stone; with six knobs
Dimensions: 2.75" D
What: Ball
Description: Unfinished carved stone ball with six knobs, locality unknown
  • 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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