The Neolithic stone balls of Scotland are a bit of a mystery. They’re mainly found in Aberdeenshire, sometimes buried beside stone circles. The carvings on them are varied and some of them have knobs. Yes, we could have a lot of fun with the balls and knobs of this post, but let’s not go there 😀
The use of the balls is unknown. There’s not much wear and tear on them, so they’re not generally thought to have been weapons.
The above stones are in the Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead. I took the picture in 2020, right before lockdown, having just become well enough to go out and about again. I posted on Twitter about including such a stone in my – then – work in progress.
SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is set well after the date of these balls. They’re thought to be about 5000 years old. But Morragh knows that it’s an old object. She calls it the ancestor stone, and sometimes it travels about with her.
I am before the Calgach and we look into one another’s eyes. It does not hurt too much, this looking, this time. He does not question me or try to interrupt what I am doing. I lay the knife in front of him, still looking into his eyes, and then the stone ball which makes a large hollow echoing sound as it connects with the table, silver sickle encircling it.
You can read more about the Neolithic stone balls on the National Museum of Scotland site here. Below is the stunning Towie ball which is part of their collection.
SISTERS is an unusual book with an unconventional narrative voice, as is noted by the following two men in their reviews.
Tom Williams: “Is it a romance? Well, there’s a boy and a girl but, if they’d had Facebook in the Bronze Age, their relationship status would best be described as ‘complicated’.” See whole review here.
Andrew G Lockhart: “Morragh walks in a mystic and magical realm, but one which recaptures the wild simplicity and beliefs of the peoples of pagan Scotland.” See review here.
And then MERMAID got a great review from Louisa Blackburn: “I really, really like the way the accents are written. I talked about them enough to where my mom asked me, “Are you reading the story, or are you listening to it?” I read the book, but the accents were written in a way that I knew what everyone sounded like.” See the whole review here.
We’ve had balls and knobs, so why not baubles too?
My historical novels all involve dark events, romance and a little magic…
- SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on the winter solstice.
- THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR has 6 chapters of medieval Christmas.
- FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE features Christmas in Colonial Pennsylvania.
They’re all available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.
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35 Replies to “The Neolithic Stone Balls of Scotland”
I had never heard of these balls before reading your book. You sent me off to research them. Very interesting. I will have to travel to that part of Scotland the next time I am there.
They are quite fascinating.
They look fascinating! How big are they actually?
Usually about the size of tennis balls.
One may call them Memory Stones. The shapes and etching/sculpting look like that.
Perhaps the balls were for darning socks. They
could also be useful weapons if placed in the toe of stockings and hurled club like at the heads of foes. Just saying…
Ha 🙂 There is a local story about women fighting off Vikings like this, but with more generic stones: https://ailishsinclair.com/2022/08/north-east-scotland-beaches/
I had a look at the museum site. What a fascinating subject these stones are!
They are rather intriguing.
Never heard of these, very interesting.
Early try-out golf balls? Yep, a joke.
Loving all the suggestions 🙂
Never heard of these stones. Do you think they were toys?
How big are these? The size of a marble, or something you would hold in your hand?
About the size of a tennis ball. Hand sized. I think I should add this information to the post as it’s not clear. Tomorrow 🙂
Those are intriguing!
Fascinating post, Ailish. Wow! That Towie ball is really stunning! The carving is SO intricate!
I love that one 🙂
Your photography constantly amazes me!
I wonder if they were for some sort of game?
The balls are really interesting. I’ve not heard of this before, so now I will want to look it up and read more. Thanks for stirring my curiosity.
Wonderful thing, curiosity 🙂
I wonder if they were made by the same people that formed the stone circles. They’re around the same age, right? The stone circles and the neolithic stones, I mean
I believe there’s a link, yes. The balls and recumbent circles seem to go together here.
I couldn’t get a context in the picture how big they would be. I’d never heard of them.
About the size of tennis balls. They would fit nicely in a hand.
Thank you for bringing these to my attention, Ailish. Fascinating! I really enjoyed your post.
Thank you 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Maybe they were used in rituals of religious worship of some pagan belief.