Woodside School pupils try to solve a Prehistoric Mystery at Marischal Museum

Woodside School pupils try to solve a Prehistoric Mystery at Marischal Museum

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY, Friday 16 January, details at end of release.

A new exhibition at the University of Aberdeen's Marischal Museum will explore a prehistoric mystery with the help of local children from Woodside School and of the sculptor Keiji Nagahiro, who lives and works in Aberdeenshire.

Some 4000 years ago a series of decorated stone balls were painstakingly made - they are each about the size of an orange and have a number of regular bosses carved on them. As nearly 90% of the balls have been found in North East Scotland, archaeologists think they were made in this area.

No-one knows what the carved stone balls were used for. Archaeologists look at the wear marks, the find spots and the associated finds. This does not solve the mystery. This exhibition suggests some possible ideas from archaeologists, from children from Woodside School and from the sculptor Keiji Nagahiro.

During a recent school visit, pupils from Primary 6 at Woodside School saw and handled some of these strange objects and began to talk about what they could have been, based on what they look like and feel like.

One child wrote: 'I think the stone balls have been made as a representative of the family, as if it were a custom for the eldest male to make them for the family, taking a lot of patience, making them for luck, strength and happiness'.

Hilary Murray, Curatorial Assistant at the Museum said: "I think perhaps the children liked being told that we as professional archaeologists do not always have certain answers about the past. It let their imaginations run free. This sort of reaction is one of the joys of working with the many schools which visit the museum "

Over 400 carved stone balls are known -most come from the North East, including Kintore, Monymusk, Inverurie, Tarland, Fyvie, New Deer, Methlick, Udny, Turriff, Cushnie, Glass, Kildrummy, Forgue and many other familiar places. About a fifth are in the care of Marischal Museum - these are all on display in this new exhibition - a rare chance to see one of the largest individual collections and decide what you think they were made for.

These strange objects have also inspired artists such as Keiji Nagahiro, two of whose sculptures are included in the exhibition.

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