Who is pebbles dating
Excavations at Old Scatness and Sandwick, Unst present us with reliable dates obtained from secure archaeological contexts, establishing their use from the middle Iron Age, through the late Iron Age and into the Pictish period.
As more archaeological sites are investigated in the future we may yet find further clues about the origin and purpose of these intriguing artefacts. Further research is needed into their type and distribution across the surfaces of these mysterious stones."More from Culture24's Archaeology section: Archaeologists investigate lost medieval chapel built to rest souls of kings in Edinburgh Iron Age hillforts to 18th century graves: Archaeologists reveal discoveries in Scotland Archaeologists find ketchup, fishy condiments, beer and radio remains at World War II Prisoner of War camp DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24.
The stones were also rubbed together with no effect on the new painted symbols.
These experiments using distilled peat tar reveal a substance, which was readily available as a resource and much easier to find than haematite.
Their numbers in the archaeological record appears to have been limited perhaps suggesting they were of revered significance, held by a certain few within communities.
A new catalogue of painted pebbles records the location of these finds throughout Scotland, with single examples from as far south as Dumfries and Galloway and west to the Outer Hebrides.
The external gable walls containing the unlined, stone-built flues for open hearths often show a dark, blackish-brown stain, very similar to the colour of the spots on the painted pebbles.
This was especially the case in Shetland from the early Iron Age onwards.
The pebbles were left to dry overnight before the stability of the pigment was tested by scrubbing the stone with a coarse pot-scourer in hot water.
The marks on the pebbles remained exactly the same and did not fade with further scouring.
The distillation of vapour, from the burning of peat, occurs when the flue cools.
This produces a sticky deposit which is a natural bituminous substance very like coal tar.
The majority of painted pebbles in Scotland have been found in Shetland, where they form an important collection within the Shetland Museum.