Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Conundrum of the Scottish Stone Balls

Posted by: Ruth A Casie
Photo Credit - The University of Aberdeen
Over 400 Scottish Carved Stone Balls have been found spread out in Scotland, primarily around Aberdeen. These balls are uniformly three inches in diameter, made from a wide range of materials, sandstone to granite, and sport a variety of patterns and knobs that range from the basic to the more ornate.
Archeologists have dated the balls as far back as the Neolithic era. They were made by Celts and some think the people before them, the Picts.
What were they used for? Ah, there is the conundrum. Because of the deep groves in some of the balls it’s thought that leather strapping was tied around the balls so they could be used as the South American bola. I dangerous weapon in deed but that theory has fallen out of favor, as has others.
The consistent size leads some speculation that the balls may have been used as part of a weighing device. That idea fell apart when further investigation proved that the weights of the stones were not consistent so that mathematically they could not be used in a weight system.
One theory was the balls were used in fishing nets. Others thought possibly as oracles, the way the ball rested when the balls were cast would lead to a interpreting a message. Since the balls fit comfortably in the hand, perhaps they were used to give someone the ‘right to speak.’ The person who held the ball had the ‘microphone.’
Were they weapons? Toys for a deadly game of catch? Tools, used in tanning hides where the balls were used to hold down the hide.
Because of their unique design and the precise placement of the knobs, there is some speculation that Neolithic people may have created the stone balls as an experiment in Greek solid geometry.
Although there are hundreds of stone balls, very little is known about how they were used. Almost all the balls are in good to perfect condition and show little sign of use. Authorities do not think these were utilitarian objects but were more symbolic and had a social significance indicating power or prestige.
Many years ago my brother gave me a small crystal oval, three inches and almost egg shaped. I had no idea what it was other than a pretty sculpture in the shape of an eagle. My husband and I speculated that it was a paper weight but we were wrong. I was surprised when I found out what it was used for.
I used carved stone balls in my new short story, Whispers on the Wind one of five short stories in Timeless Treasures.

If you're interested in the answer look at the comment below. So, what do you think? Could these carved stone balls have been used for similarly?

1 comment:

  1. It's a hand warmer! People used to heat up the small sculpture and hold them in their hands.

    ReplyDelete

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