Rare archaeological artefacts to be displayed for the first time at Timeless Treasures exhibition


04 September 2019
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An exhibition of archaeology from Aberdeenshire and beyond opens at Peterhead’s Arbuthnot Museum this month.

An exhibition of archaeology from Aberdeenshire and beyond opens at Peterhead’s Arbuthnot Museum this month. 

The objects on display are from the collections of Live Life Aberdeenshire’s Museums Service and include a Late Neolithic jet and Baltic amber bead necklace and a Bronze Age armlet; a medieval musical pipe discovered at Drum Castle and thought to lure animals; a medieval whale bone net spreader from Castle Hill, Banff; and a 4,000-year-old Greek kernos used to hold offerings to the Gods.

Many have been donated by local people such as Adam Arbuthnot, the 19th-century Peterhead merchant after whom the museum is named, who bequeathed Egyptian mummy wheat from a tomb at Thebes.

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Chair of the Live Life Aberdeenshire Sport and Culture Sub-committee, David Cook, said: “Archaeology helps us to learn more about past societies, cultures and the development of the human race. Aberdeenshire has a rich archaeological heritage, and this educational exhibition offers a glimpse of life for people living here hundreds and thousands of years ago.”

The Meethill Pot

This earthenware food vessel or bowl dates from the Late Neolithic period. Burnt areas inside the body of this vessel indicate that it may have been used for cooking food. It was discovered at Meethill, Peterhead when foundations for the present Reformation Tower Monument were dug in 1833. Although it was found locally, the design of this object suggests that it was possibly made in Ireland. Decoration includes a zig-zag pattern on the rim and a stamped circular design repeated in rows around the body of the vessel. Adam Arbuthnot bequeathed this pot to the museums service in 1850.

Stone ball

The stone ball shown here dates from the Late Neolithic period was found in Peterhead. It was donated to the museums service during the late 19thcentury. 

The purpose of carved stone balls is still unknown. Few of these balls are damaged or show any signs of use. Presumably they were non-utilitarian objects with a symbolic or social significance to communities, possibly symbols of power or prestige.

Over 400 carved stone balls are now known, mainly from Scotland although a few have been found in northern England and Ireland. They mostly date from between 3000 and 2500 BC. Carved from various stones such as sandstone and granite, they are of a relatively similar size and are decorated with evenly spaced patterns of circular bosses or knobs around the sphere. Some carved balls are more skilfully manufactured than others, while a rare few have additional decoration. All show an appreciation for symmetry in the design.

The free display at the Arbuthnot Museum, St Peter Street, Peterhead runs from Saturday, September 7 until Saturday, January 11, 2020. 

(images courtesy of Aberdeenshire Museums Service)