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Carved stone ball

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Postcard of Carved stone ball.
000-180-001-720-C
© 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 irregularly-shaped ball has been carved with six projecting knobs. 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.


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Online ID: 000-180-001-720-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 188
Date: Between 3200 and 2500 BC
Material: Stone; irregular; six knobs
Dimensions:
What: Ball
Subject:
Who:
Where:
Event:
Description: Carved stone ball
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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