Scottish carved stone ball

Contributed by The Hunterian

Scottish carved stone ball

Carved stone balls are mysterious and uniquely Scottish objects. They are thought to date from the late Neolithic period, more than 4000 years ago. We do not know what they were for or how they were used. We have twenty seven carved stone balls in our collection which provide examples of all the types. They are all very similar in size with an average diameter of 70mm. There is a range of decoration; some have six or eight large flat knobs, others have multiple knobs, spirals or incised designs.

This example comes from William Hunter's collection. In his day, the study of archaeology did not exist as we know it now. William Hunter, and collectors like him in the 16th and 17th centuries had "Cabinets of Curiosities". These cabinets showed off unusual and rare things, and are seen as the forerunners of modern-day museums. Carved stone balls like this one were known as "artificial curiosities" to distinguish them from "natural curiosities" which were not man-made.

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late Neolithic/Bronze Age


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