A possible connection has been established between the tiny, 5,000-year-old carved figurine discovered last month at Links of Noltland on Orkney and a lintel stone found on the nearby remote islet Holm of Papa Westray.
Archaeologists identified a potential correlation between the distinctive heavy, curved eyebrows and dotted eyes on the so-called Orkney Venus which is thought to be Scotlands earliest representation of the human face and markings that theyd earlier seen etched into the lintel rock, which lies inside a large chambered Neolithic burial cairn. Mike Brooks, of the Historic Scotland photographic unit, was dispatched to Holm of Papa Westray which is only accessible by private boat hire to take some high-quality snaps of the stone; initial comparisons do show a similarity.
It may point, commented Historic Scotland cultural resources team senior archaeologist Richard Strachan in a statement, to the possibility that the markings in the cairn are meant to show human eyebrows and eyes, as the style is very similar to the figurine. Alternatively, we may be seeing the re-use of a motif familiar to the carver and applied to different contexts with different meaning.
This is highly intriguing and raises yet more questions about Neolithic peoples attitudes to artistic representations of human beings, he continued. Images of people are very rare indeed, which some people believe suggests that it was considered taboo.
But the discovery of the figurine shows there were some exceptions, and the lintel in the tomb may suggest that there were situations where particular features could be shown.
Picture from Historic Scotland. All rights reserved.