Archaeological Oddities: The Ballachulish Figure

AO Ballachulish Figure

This Iron Age wooden figure, found near the banks of Loch Leven, Argyll, used to give me the creeps. But I feel more affection for her now, after reading about the rough treatment she had, both in the nineteenth century and back in the Iron Age.

Accounts of her discovery suggest that she was either bound in a wickwork structure or weighted down with hurdles during her burial – in a manner also found with bog body burials.

When she was dug out of a peat bog in 1880 she was allowed to dry out – leading to the stretching and warping of her features. Her legs were broken on the journey to Edinburgh, and finally a section of the carving broke off.

As she is flat chested she has been described as a girl or “young goddess”. And that promise of future fertility? Written accounts describe her as holding a phallic object in her right hand. It’s hard to tell from the photos and drawings – so I will have to verify this when Dr A and I go up to Edinburgh this summer!

Read more about the figure here and here.

More Archaeological Oddites here.

Or buy them here.

Dr H