Saturday 9 July 2016

Clay balls - Stone balls

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


  1. Could be a big coincidence but there has never been a barrier to cultural spread.

  2. Fascinating piece. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate these posts. You must do a lot of research on this.

  3. Have you looked into the archaeology of Spain? The Celts passed through Spain on the way to Ireland.

    1. No. Do you have any info on similar objects from Spain?


    3. Not the same type of objects. Saying that, the stone balls of the Costa Rican type are actually quite numerous in the Balkans.

  4. Several of those above Remind me of my Kids old Jacks they bounce a ball and pick up 1 zies 2 zies and so on, and considering that Carbon is what is used to stabilize natural Rubber, I have said forever there had to be ancient balloons, or if you prefer airships, It is prety much impossible for me to believe that before the modern era someone cut several rubber trees down and used them as their firewood and at some point after I can see a kid finding the rubber that had been stabilized with the caRBON OF THE BURNING WOOD, AND COULD HAVE POSSIBLY CONGEALED INTO A rubber ball like mass, or someone was poking at the afore mentioned fire and noticed the rubber sap bubbling up and got it on the stick then the next time they grabbed the stick it had this goo on it that was completely different from anything. Ancient people were never as stupid as most of the morons of the modern world, for the simple fact stupidity creates many more Life endangering risks so the stupid would kill themselves off eventually and same as today ignorant people are the people who die younger, why it seems girls at young ages are attracted to those ignorant people may just be a natural limiting factor in our own genetic structure to slow our progress throughout time into beings capable of destroying their entire species and all species with 1 stupid mistake. Face it we are here and we exist and we should have easily been able to become a space faring civilization many thousands of times throughout all of human history, but there have always been those who show up when we are advancing at what is our natural rate of advancing as a species screaming Heresy and labeling them Heretical thinkers or witches or Sorcerers, there was a time not so long ago when even having the thoughts I have had to be capable of writing this may have been enough to have my eyes gouged out and possibly even my hands removed, which either would hasten my Death, and would lessen the chances my seed would have any chance of ever finding a fertile female for them, what do you get when you give a race the ability to think and mold the world to their needs, you get others that are older and have already spread their seed vastly, thereby securing the future of ignorance saying that the younger free thinker is possessed by a Devil or Demon, lots of the time the old coot just didn't want his or her grand child to associate with that family of thinkers who aren't satisfied building their homes from straw and dung, and god forbid they magically mated 2 stones with some concoction of some de4mon is how they came up with mortar, or someone just spilled water milk or some liquid on the fire and they noticed the flaked off stone that had built up in the bottom of the fire pit had reformed into a new stone, it must be sorcery plain and simple, I wonder how many centuries humanity endured the idiocy of fools prior to accepting the new technology had been developed probably from one of the fools spilling and putting out the fire. LOL I think I have made my point quite well

  5. The late Paul Campbell ( claimed that hard stone balls around 7 cm were naturally formed when you start with an oval hammerstone and use it to shape a number of stone tools, so this is where someone making a bunch of stone tools could end up with, basically, a stone orb.

    No one's speculated, but I wonder if these knobbed stone balls were made from hammerstones, for fun, as some sort of symbol, or something similar.

  6. Somewhere I saw the theory that these stone balls were means for demonstrating the Pythagorean solids, as strings could be attached to the knobs to show the intended edges.

  7. My paper on the mysterious Carved Stone Balls of Scotland has caught the attention and interest of the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF), the collaborative project funded by Historic Scotland and led by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. A PDF of the paper can be freely downloaded from the ScARF site at the following link ...

  8. all of the presented objects from Serbia were most probably used in a textile production rather then as amulets!