I'll expand from a previous comment to Charles about Neolithic sports and revisit a theory by Nisbet, 2014 about the purpose of stone balls first proposed by Dorothy Marshall (1976) that these balls were possibly from an ancient sport. I suspect that they could have been more specifically, "boules" and that their irregularity is intended for a biased ball game such as Scottish bowls. Let's do some reverse engineering...
They have also different denominations of knobs and rings in an inventory that seems to reveal a structure. In the game of bowls, the bowl is rolled along a particular trajectory and at the end of the roll takes an erratic course when nearing the jackball. The selection of the bowl and how the bowl is release is part of a strategy to get to the jackball.
Although there are several versions of boules games in Europe, such as Bocce Ball, the modern professional games of biased Lawn Bowls was refined in modern Scotland, rather conveniently. [more]
|Stone Balls from Hunterian Museum (cosmic via Megalithic Portal)|
It'd be interesting to take an arm full of these items down to the green and see how they roll and stop. Are any of them biased in a particular way? Do some stop short and others go long? Do some veer hard right?
Going back to the seeming structure of the 375 inventory, it could be that a Neolithic bowl set, however standardized, consisted of different divisions of knobs and biases for different uses, similar to a bag of golf clubs. The bowler picks a 3, then a 7, then 9, so forth.
"The Carved Stone Balls of Scotland: Who made them, and why?"
Jeff Nisbet (2014) Scottish Heritage [Link]
See his Academia link in the comments section as well.
See also : Malagabay Blog
|David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) Playing Bowls at an Inn|