Archaeological Activities: Make your own Carved Stone Balls!

It's our next episode of...Archaeological Activities!

Today's episode:

"LET'S TALK BALLS"

Coloured in your Beard of Caithness? Kept all the colours in the lines? You're a damn liar. But it's time for your next activity (or activities).

This time, we're going to learn how to make a CARVED STONE BALL, or, if you're being fancy, a PETROSPHERE!

Over 425 carved stone balls have been found in the UK, though most are from Scotland. Aberdeenshire has the highest concentration - 169 have recovered from the area!

Image courtesy of http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/icosahedron/7.html

These balls have been dated to the Neolithic Age - that's over 5,000 years old - and several of them have been found in Caithness, such as the one found near the Broch of Yarrows below:

What do you think they were used for? Who made them? Why? So many questions can be asked about these cracking wee objects...

Now, who wants to make their own one?

Well, there are THREE ways. Two safe way for the younger ones, and the actual way, for the big kids. Or the kids you'd trust whacking stones together, anyway.

The first one uses clay and only takes an afternoon to make:

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/media/4825/make-your-own-neolithic-carved-stone-ball.pdf

The second way is with paper-mache, with instructions by the Young Archaeologists' Club:

https://www.yac-uk.org/activity/carve-a-petrosphere

This is a activity which can be spread over two days. And as you wait for the 'carved stone ball' to dry, you can draw the designs you want for your ball. So it's all about creativity, but also planning!

Now, if you want an activity which will keep the bairns occupied for the whole WEEK, and you trust them wielding a couple of stones, then you can have a go at making your own.

Above: One of the carved stone balls Chris Gee created - make your own with his instructions here

You will need:

Gloves - to protect your delicate hands

A mask - (surely everyone has one of these now?) to inhibit dust inhalation

Goggles - to stop any bits flying off into your eyes

Basically, get a nice stone, such as sandstone, and hit it with a harder stone into the required shape. Instructions on how to make a carved stone ball can be found on our blog post below - big thanks to Chris Gee of Brodgar Archaeological Chocolate and Art from Orkney for making these lovely recreations and instructions: