Some Reasons For Visiting The National Museum of Scotland,  Edinburgh

By Bernie Bell

 In 1963, at Westness on the island of Rousay,  a farmer was digging a hole to bury a dead cow (believe it or not, by the shore at Moo Ness), when he discovered a Viking burial, including some beautiful beads, a necklace (which I covet), and……the Westness brooch

There’s a really nice picture of the necklace, here………….

Reading that these finds are now in the National  Museum in Edinburgh, got me thinking about the wonders I  found during my day spent there, a few years ago.  Mike had a 3 day meeting in Edinburgh, and I went with him to explore. I spent a very happy day in the museum, mostly in the first section ‘Beginnings’, only emerging to go up to the cafe, for my lunch!  What a place – and I was particularly pleased that they started with geology, as, well, where people live, does start with geology, doesn’t it?  I have an interest in geology, and got very excited about the lovely big samples they have in the exhibition there.

And then there the ‘bling’……..

Carved stone balls – don’t even get me started, on carved stone balls….

I encountered this lady/Goddess in the entrance passage to the area which has artefacts connected with Gods and ancestors…….

Here’s the ‘blurb’ that goes with her………

“Oak Goddess, found in a bog, covered by the remains of a wickerwork structure.  The bog over-looked the entrance to a sea loch, at Ballachulish.”

Wooden representations of Gods and Goddesses were sometimes placed in the bogs. Right in the land – and so, became part of the land.  There are so many connections here, including Arno Minkkinens photographs , in which his images using arms and legs and feet and parts of the human anatomy, are reminiscent of the images of the Bog People in P.V. Glob’s book  Wood looks like human anatomy. Human anatomy looks like wood.  Both can become earth.

A stone to stop you in your tracks, and one for the  Pier Arts Centre?  Could be by Barbara Hepworth?

A fine selection from the Neolithic – arrow heads, carved stone balls, ‘pot lids’ ….

National Museum of Scotland pot lids arrowheads Bell

Moving forward in time, I saw this, among many other wonders…..

National Museum of Scotland whalebones Bell

And here’s the ‘blurb’ that goes with it………..

“Stacked Whalebones. Andy Goldsworthy 2001.

Complete skeleton of a Pilot whale beached on the Northumberland coast at Beadnell, 25th October 1997.”

And this was all from just the ‘Beginnings’ section – I should go back.

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