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Carved Stone Ball (Stone)(Neolithic)

Site Name Sherrifmuir

Classification Carved Stone Ball (Stone)(Neolithic)

Canmore ID 369046

Site Number NN80NE 48

NGR NN 86 05

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Blackford
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire


Field Visit

NN 86 05 Discovered in topsoil at the base of a furrow while planting trees, this carved stone ball has six symmetrically arranged low knobs of roughly equal size, two of which have been decorated with incised lines, allowing classification as Dorothy Marshall’s type 4a/9c. This ball was manufactured from a fine mid greyish green igneous rock, with two very fine white veins.

The ball was evidently formed by pecking with a hammerstone, but almost all trace of pock-marks has been removed by fine grinding across the entire surface. The ball once had raised triangular interspaces, but these were removed by fine pecking after the surface had been ground. One knob exhibits a minor imperfection resulting from an irregularity in the piece of raw material from which the artefact was manufactured.

Two adjacent knobs exhibit incised decoration. One knob bears cross-hatching, consisting of grid of 13x15 lines, c.0.5mm wide, spaced at 2-3.5 mm intervals, while the second knob exhibits five parallel lines c.1mm wide, running across its centre. Microscopy revealed the cross-hatching was executed by incising parallel lines in one direction, before rotating the artefact 90 degrees and incising the second series of parallel lines; no traces of marking out were identified. In contrast, the five parallel lines on the adjacent knob overlie numerous slight lines on a similar orientation from marking out. Slight irregularities in the execution indicate that both designs were produced freehand, but differences between the panels indicate that they were produced using different tools and probably by a different hand. Length 73.3mm, breadth 72.6mm, by 72.3mm thick; weight 492.8g.

A subsequent site visit recovered 16 struck lithic artefacts, including three pieces of pitchstone and a flint transverse arrowhead, from furrows surrounding the findspot of the ball. These indicate that the ball lay within a small contemporary late Neolithic scatter. No archaeological features were observed. These artefacts and a full account of the carved stone ball will be published in the Tayside & Fife Archaeological Journal.

Claimed as Treasure Trove (TT 138/18) and allocated to the Perth Museum and Art Gallery

Hugo Anderson-Whymark – National Museums Scotland

(Source: DES Vol 20)


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