Stone Balls – Supplemental!!!

By Bernie Bell

Another big stone ball has been found at Tresness!!!

I’m intrigued by the two carved lines.  I want to see more pictures!  A 3D model by Hugo Anderson-Whymark would be groovy…..

Are there simply two lines, carved right round it?  And, it‘s not exactly a ball, it’s a …rotundoid.

It reminds me of a Barbara Hepworth sculpture I saw years ago in Aberdeen Art Gallery. A rounded piece of green marble, with one simple circle carved into it. I can’t say how much I wanted to take that lump of marble home with me. It’s described as being made of ’green marble’.  For me, green marble  is Connemara marble – The Irish Connection.

I had gone to the Gallery after an appointment in the nearby hospital for a – at the time quite worrying – bone scan.  What I saw in the Gallery lifted my spirits – and that piece of sculpture was the main……antidote/healer.

I wonder, did the ancient peoples carve and make things for this reason, too?

Another good thing in that Gallery was – we stood under the dome in the centre of the Memorial Gallery, and made noises.  Mike made deep “Hmmmmmm, hmmmmm, hmmmmm” noises, and I made “Ah ahhhhhh, ah ahhhhhh, ah ahhhhhh” noises.  It’s a very good resonance chamber!  As at some of the ancient sites, resonance matters so much to us –  the effect of sound on the human body – and mind. 

No one told us off for making those noises, either.  My policy is to have a go, and if they tell me not to, fair enough.

There are wonders, everywhere, even when going for a hospital appointment!!!

Carved stones – Ancient and Modern – Conversations with Stones – Pier Arts Centre 2017 –

One of my nephews once described me as being ‘stone mad’ – guilty as charged!

5 replies »

  1. Hello Carolyn – thanks for the information. I was getting excited about what I saw in the picture – or maybe I should say what I thought I saw!
    That’s why I said I’d like to see more pictures.
    Still am excited.

    I’m not on Facebook, so can’t respond to you there.

  2. ” did the ancient peoples carve and make things for this reason, too?”

    Are they not ceremonial weapons? Could they have been used to kill people as a sacrifice to propitiate a god/the gods?

    • In 2008 Babette Barthelmess had an exhibition in Tankerness House Museum which included her work on the Ball of Towie. There was a young man there who was very interested in the whole thing and I got talking with him, exchanging ideas on the exhibition.
      He saw the carved balls as missiles for throwing to kill animals for hunting – maybe they were.
      I suggested that taking that much trouble to carve something which could easily be lost in the hunt or on the battlefield, didn’t seem like a good idea.
      He pointed out how they might have thought it was worth the effort of carving so carefully to obtain ‘divine intervention’, or even just intense focus, in the hunt or in battle.

      Those are just two of the different views we exchanged about the Ball of Towie, and other carved stone balls. Different views can make us re-assess our own.
      Here’s something of how I see them…..

  3. PS
    Seeing them as ceremonially carved for human sacrifice presumes that the Neolithic people of Scotland were indulging in that behaviour.
    I don’t think there has been any evidence found to support that assumption.
    I may be wrong – I’m not an archaeologist – but I don’t think so.

  4. CSB’s
    you probably ken aboot this book*. I’m sperein the Library to see if they’ll consider buying a copy!
    More than one request might strengthen the case! 😉 I’ts £50.00!!

    The Circular Archetype in Microcosm: The Carved Stone Balls of Late Neolithic Scotland
    A Paperback edition by Chris L. Stewart-Moffitt (14 Jul 2022)


    Peek inside at:

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