Carved Stone Balls are petrospheres, usually round and rarely oval. They have from 3 to 160 protruding knobs on the surface. Their size is fairly uniform at around 2.75 inches or 7 cm across, they date from the late Neolithic to possibly as late as the Iron Age and are mainly found in Scotland, but also elsewhere in Britain and Ireland. They range from having no ornamentation (apart from the knobs) to extensive and highly varied engraved patterns. A wide range of theories have been produced to explain their use or significance, without any one gaining very wide acceptance. Carved Stone Balls are up to 5200 years old, coming from the late Neolithic to at least the Bronze Age.
Nearly all have been found in north-east Scotland, the majority in Aberdeenshire, the fertile land lying to the east of the Grampian Mountains. A similar distribution to that of Pictish symbols led to the early suggestion that Carved Stone Balls are Pictish artefacts.
Here are some examples of the so called "carved stone balls" from Scotland:
At least 1000 years earlier, in Serbia, people from Vinča culture made very very very similar objects from burned clay which they wore as amulets.
This one is from Vinča Beli Breg settlement near Belgrade
This one is from Vinča Jakovo Kormadin settlement near Belgrade
These amulets are from different localities, non published before they appeared in the publication entitled "Vinčanski amuleti" (Vinča amulets) by Ivana Pantović.
This is extremely interesting and significant. It points to the possibility that the origin of the Scottish so called "stone carved balls" could be found in the clay amulets from Serbia. The fact that the Vinča artifacts were made of clay, whereas the Scottish artifacts were made from stone is also very interesting. This is not the only type of artifacts which were first found in Vinča cultural layers in the Balkans, small and made of burned clay, only to be found later in Britain much larger and made of stones. Progressively bigger and bigger stones.
It looks like the British Megalithic culture could be in a way the continuation of the Vinča culture. Vinča culture which somehow got to Britain and there went Megalomaniac and Megalithic.
I was just made aware of a very interesting discovery made under the Mound 1 at Knowth, in the Boyne Valley which adds support for my theory that this is an example of the Balkan - Britain cultural transfer in the late Neolithic.
This is the picture of one of the two miniature carved stone ball bead from Knowth. Maximum thickness: 14.3mm. (Photo by K. Williams for Excavations at Knowth 6: The Neolithic Archaeology of the Large Passage Tomb 1 at Knowth, Co. Meath, by G. Eogan)
They were published in 1986 (Eogan 1986, fig. 21) but their significance has not been appreciated until 2011 when professor Alison Sheridan, during her visit to Dublin, saw them and realized that they were miniature versions of a very distinctive type of artefact well known from Neolithic Scotland – the carved stone ball :) Professor Sheridan published a paper linking these clay ammulets from Knowth with Scottish carves stone balls under title "Little and large: the miniature ‘carved stone ball’ beads from the Eastern tomb at Knowth, Ireland, and their broader significance". This is very very very very very :) interesting...
What do you thing of all this?
"Vinčanski amuleti" (Vinča amulets) by Ivana Pantović
"Life in Clay, Neolithic Art on the Territory of Belgrade" by Bisenija Petrović, Miloš Spasić
"Little and large: the miniature ‘carved stone ball’ beads from the Eastern tomb at Knowth, Ireland, and their broader significance" by Alison Sheridan