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The archeologists are at it again…

They’ve recently found two of these very round stone balls in an ancient tomb in Scotland. Yes, I am resisting the urge to make a stone balls joke of some description.

About twenty ancient stone balls have been found in the Orkneys and others across Scotland. I was sure I had posted about them before, but I can’t find any such post. The ones in the upper right corner of this Wikipedia article are examples of what I’m talking about.

So what are they?

Researchers say the stones were probably used as both weapons and symbols of power.

Symbols of power? Really? I get that it would be difficult to make such a thing with hand tools, so maybe it was a high status item but…a symbol of power?

Don’t they make more sense as a neolithic one of these?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 14, 2021, 11:12 pm

Also, they keep going on about how the stones are perfectly round. They’re really nice and smooth BUT THEY ARE NOT ROUND.

I mean spherical.


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: September 15, 2021, 2:04 am

Smooth round(-ish) stone ball as a weapon? Wouldn’t an irregular rock with jagged flesh-tearing sharp bits be better?

Personally, for weapons, I prefer throwing .30 cal. items for distance and 9 mm for close work.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: September 15, 2021, 11:07 am

Ah, they discovered the nursery for these :


They should set them aside in roomy containers, over time they grow larger.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: September 15, 2021, 11:13 am

And you obviously need a goat –


Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 15, 2021, 1:26 pm

Durn Yankee – that’s a fascinating read!

Stoaty – The “Orb”, as in “The Scepter and the Orb” goes way way back as a symbol of power.


Of course it could be that making “round”* balls was just a “do something while doing nothing” way of passing long winter nights while sitting around the fire.

My father worked for an electronics company that used raw quartz for making components. A fellow engineer spent his 20-some years there making a real crystal ball. He roughed the shape out with diamond saws and then filled the casing of a large artillery shell with abrasives. While he worked, he just kept rolling the ball over, and over, and over, and over. The “orb” gradually grew rounder, and over the years he kept changing the abrasive to get a smoother and smoother finish. I saw it once, close to his retirement. It was beautiful, and I often wonder where it is today…

* Okay, okay: spherical, not round. And not perfectly spherical at that; but what do you expect from some guy sitting in a hut watching the fire burn, working without any real tools? Geez, you guys are a tough audience!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 15, 2021, 1:29 pm

I used to date a man who went to gunsmithing school. One workshop he went to, they gave him a 1″ cube of steel and a file and said, “make a sphere.”

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: September 15, 2021, 5:56 pm

Filing a cube – The various producers of Enfield muskets prior to interchangeable parts that is, had a room called the filing room, where parts were filed down till they fit.
You couldn’t interchange the lock mechanism etc. from just any musket with another when they broke until interchangeable parts were invented.

Completely spherical objects are neat.
We take ball bearings for granted, but shouldn’t.

You can’t build a ‘shot tower’ to make spherical objects out of stone. 🙂


Maybe these were proto type golf balls, it’s not like the old Scots had rubber trees and such, so, you know, you use what you have.
This is why golf is such a hard game.

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