Did Neolithic Scots Play Cricket?

Some prehistoric stone spheres found in Scotland feature carved ridges and spirals. This one's surface is polished smooth. (Mike Lawlor)

Polished 5,500-Year-Old Stone Balls Found in Neolithic Scottish Tomb

Livia Gershon/Smithsonianmag.com

Archaeologists excavating a tomb at one of Scotland’s oldest known monuments have discovered two polished, 5,500-year-old stone balls, reports Alison Campsie for the Scotsman.

The team made the find at Tresness, a chambered cairn on the Orkney island of Sanday that dates to around 3500 B.C.E.

“A cracking find from the tomb!” wrote Hugo Anderson-Whymark, senior curator of prehistory at the National Museum of Scotland, on Twitter after the first ball’s discovery. “Only 20 or so Neolithic polished stone balls have been found in Orkney and few have been recovered from secure contexts.”

Anderson-Whymark later posted that the second ball was “the size of a cricket ball, perfectly spherical and beautifully finished. It’s split along bedding in the banded sandstone but will be amazing when conserved.”

Researchers have previously found plain stone balls at other sites in Orkney, including the Neolithic village of Skara Brae and the complex of buildings known as the Ness of Brodgar, reports the Press and Journal’s Ellie Milne. Archaeologists have also unearthed more than 500 carved stone balls, some in Orkney but most elsewhere.

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  1. Maybe the stone balls were naturally formed somehow, and prized for their uniqueness?
    One earth, but billions and billions of human stories.

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