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15 June 2016

5000 year old human figurine rediscovered in Orkney

A Neolithic human figurine found at Skara Brae has been rediscovered

Curator holding an artifact

A long lost Neolithic human figurine found at Skara Brae in the 1860s has been rediscovered in the collections of Stromness Museum, Orkney. 

Dr David Clarke identified the figurine among artefacts from Skaill House whilst undertaking research on Skara Brae funded by Historic Environment Scotland. Carved from a piece of whalebone, it measures 9.5cm high by 7.5cm wide.

Hugh Morrison, Collections Manager for Historic Environment Scotland said, “We became aware of the existence of a possible figurine while working with Dr Clarke on a forthcoming publication about Skara Brae, but until now we had only seen the 'bone idol' in sketches made by George Petrie in the 1860s.

"The rediscovery of the figure is significant as it emphasises many of the similarities in the late Neolithic assemblages and structures from Skara Brae and Links of Noltland. It’s also hugely exciting, because it opens the door for re-examining other objects in our collections and may shed light on other figurines found at HES commissioned excavations, such as the Westray Wife discovered at Links of Noltland.”

Nicknamed the ‘Skara Brae Buddo’ – ‘buddo’ means ‘friend’ or ‘person’ in the Orcadian dialect – the figurine will now go on public display for the first time in Stromness Museum, alongside other artefacts from Skara Brae. 

Visit the Stromness Museum website to read the full story.