More Matters Neolithical: The Ball of Towie

The Ball of Towie by Mike Bell

A dance inspired by Babette Barthelmess’s meditations on the symbolic meanings of the Neolithic carved stone ball found at Towie, Aberdeenshire.

The movements of the dance embody both the physical designs carved into the ball and the symbolism of a ‘creation myth’ describing the emergence of life’s pattern from the void.

The themes are circles and spirals of increasing complexity, patterns of four, and tetrahedral arrangements, in which each dancer is set in equal relation to all the other dancers within a set.

Dancers are arranged in triangular sets of two couples. The dance consists of four separate figures, the last of which is progressive. The dance would suit a 32- or 64 bar jig or reel.

The Ball of Towie 1The Ball of Towie 2The Ball of Towie 3The Ball of Towie 4

Towie ball fact file

Date Around 3000 BC

Made from Stone

Diameter 73mm

Weight 531g

Found Glaschul Hill, Towie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Acquired 1860

Museum reference X.AS 10

On display Early People, Level -1, National Museum of Scotland

Did you know? More than 430 examples of objects similar to the Towie ball are known.


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