Other polished artefacts have recently been uncovered in an excavation on Sanday, in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. Two polished stone balls were unearthed by archaeologists from UCLan and National Museums Scotland in a Neolithic tomb, dating back some 5,500 years. Vicki Cummings of UCLan said, ‘Our previous work at Tresness, especially in 2019, had indicated that we were dealing with a very well-preserved stalled cairn, albeit one that had been significantly altered in parts in the early Bronze Age.’
With its cliff-top location, the tomb is at risk from coastal erosion, and part of the southernmost of its at least five separate chambers has already been lost to the sea. Because of this threat, the team has been investigating the site over the last few years, and the discovery of the balls comes from work this September. The balls would have taken a considerable amount of time to make and so, though their purpose remains unclear, they may have indicated prestige, or have been used as ceremonial objects, or possibly weapons.