Carved stone ball

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from Deeside, Aberdeenshire

Postcard of Carved stone ball.
© National Museums Scotland

Carved stone ball

This carved stone ball was found at Deeside in Aberdeenshire. 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 knobs. The spaces between them have been 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. While most are decorated with knobs, the treatment varies. Some are rounded, while others are squared. Some are barely outlined, while others are deeply cut to form prominent knobs. On some balls, such as this one, the spaces between the knobs have special treatment.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-351-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 96
Date: Between 3200 and 2500 BC
Material: Quartzite
Dimensions: 2.88" Dia
What: Ball
Where: Scotland, Aberdeenshire, Deeside
Description: Ball of quartzite sandstone from Deeside, Aberdeenshire
  • 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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