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Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

Carved stone balls (Scotland)

More than 400 examples of Scottish Carved Stone Balls have been found. They are believed to have originated in the late Neolithic and the Bronze Age - i.e. thought to be more than 5,000 years old.

Most have been found in north-east Scotland, mainly Aberdeenshire. They usually range in size from 70 to 90mm diameter, and are hand-carved with varying numbers of symmetrically-arranged protruding bumps on the surface (from 3 to over 150) .

Their purpose is unknown. Suggestions include :

  • As a type of oracle
  • As a 'turn-taking' token
  • As weapons
  • As weights for balances
  • As fishing-line weights
  • As tools for rolling leather items
  • As 'ball bearings' for transporting heavy objects

See photos and 3-D rotatable scans of examples held at the National Museum of Scotland [requires modern web-browser]:

Also see : Diquis spheresplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigDiquis spheres

In the 1930's workers from the United Fruit Company, who were clearing land in the Diquís Valley Delta region of Costa Rica, began finding large numbers of almost perfectly round stone spheres.

The spheres, which range from a few kilograms up to around 16 tonnes, are accurately made, presumably by chipping.
and Lithic spheroidsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigLithic spheroids

'Lithic spheroids' (stone balls) are small man-made Stone Age artefacts (dating from around 1.8 million years ago to 70,000 years ago). They have mainly been found in Africa, but also in Europe and Asia. Exactly how and why they were made remains uncertain.

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