Record

Carved stone ball

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from Caithness

Postcard of Carved stone ball.
000-180-001-350-C
© National Museums Scotland

Carved stone ball

This carved stone ball was found in Caithness. 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 quartzite sandstone ball has been carved with six projecting circular knobs, and the spaces between them filled with raised triangles. Carved stone balls have been found with as many as 160 knobs, but six is the most common number.

Carved stone balls are distinctly Scottish objects, with over 425 known, all but a handful found in Scotland. The majority have been found between the Moray Firth and the River Tay, especially in Aberdeenshire, but examples are known from throughout Scotland.


Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-350-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 94
Date: Between 3200 and 2500 BC
Material: Quartzite
Dimensions: 2.75" Dia
What: Ball
Subject:
Who:
Where: Scotland, Caithness
Event:
Description: Ball of quartzite sandstone, from Caithness
References:
  • 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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