The Christmas exhibition at the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness opened last night with all the wonderful works produced locally and for sale. This year I entered a carved stone ball. It was made from Orcadian Old Red Sandstone and was pecked and ground to shape using locally found rocks.
These interesting objects dating to around 3000bc vary in material, execution, number and arrangement of bosses. They are often of a size which fits nicely into the hand. My carved stone ball has six bosses arranged similarly to the faces on a cube. Just over half of the circa 420 carved stone balls known have this arrangement of discs. I decided to make this ball slightly larger than the average so that it could be displayed and seen.
This ball, like many Neolithic examples, was at one point a sphere before it was further carved. The retention of the original surface on the bosses means that when viewed from any angle the overall impression is of a ball.
Several Neolithic carved stone balls are made of sandstone. At the Ness of Brodgar excavation red sandstone was chosen deliberately to be dressed and used architecturally where it contrasts with yellow sandstone and flagstones. Red and yellow sandstone polychrome stonework also appears in the 12th and 13th century parts of St Magnus Cathedral. The ball is red with a small yellow inclusion which I have tried to incorporate into its shape.
The exhibition runs until Christmas.