Motif piece

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from Brough of Birsay, Orkney

Postcard of Motif piece.
© National Museums Scotland

Motif piece

This bone motif piece was found at the Brough of Birsay in Orkney. It belongs to the Pictish settlement at the site, dating sometime between 700 and 900.

The bone is from an ox scapula. Three sides were broken, and the remaining face was made smooth and polished. On this side, the lower part has been gouged in an attempt to suggest a metalworking technique called chip carving.

Remains of metalworking were preserved at the Brough of Birsay. This object was used by a craftsman to try out his design, before working on more precious metals.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-452-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.HB 267
Date: Between 700 and 900
Material: Bone, ox scapula; incomplete
Dimensions: 230 mm L
Where: Scotland, Orkney, Brough of Birsay
Description: Bone motif piece from Birsay, Orkney
  • Curle, C.L. Pictish and Norse finds from the Brough of Birsay, 1973-74. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Monograph Series 1, 1982, pp 24-5, 110. 
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