Carved stone ball (piece)

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from Nocharie, Strathmiglo, Fife

Postcard of Carved stone ball (piece).
© National Museums Scotland

Carved stone ball (piece)

This piece of a carved stone ball was found at Nocharie at Strathmiglo in Fife. 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.

Around half of the ball survives. It was originally carved with six knobs, one of which is plain and the rest with cross-hatched decoration. 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. They are remarkably similar in size and are decorated with knobs carved in relief or with incised spirals, circles or other patterns. Some, such as this example, have both types of decoration.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-383-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 166
Date: Between 3200 and 2500 BC
Material: Stone
Dimensions: 2.50" Dia
What: Ball / half
Where: Scotland, Fife, Strathmiglo, Nochnarie
Description: Half of a ball of stone from Nochnarie, Strathmiglo, Fife
  • 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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