Iron Age experts resurrect Ballachulish Goddess
THE MYSTERIOUS Iron Age carving known as the ‘Ballachulish Goddess’ has been recreated by a team of archaeologists, artists and carvers, not far from where the original effigy was found on the shores of Loch Leven in 1880, writes Mark Entwistle.
Known officially as the Ballachulish Figure by the National Museums of Scotland where the original mysterious carving resides, the new copy gives a better idea of what the 2,500-year- old original might have looked like before its waterlogged wood dried out after being lifted from the shore of Loch Leven during building work.
The original is an approximately life-sized figure of a girl or goddess, carved from a single piece of alder, with pebbles for eyes. Her fame now stretches around the world after having been seen by millions of visitors.
Although the figure is unique in Scotland, other wooden figures dating to the Bronze and Iron Ages are known from Britain, Ireland and the continent.
And that is why a team of specialists, led by experts from the University of Cork, were in Ballachulish at the weekend.
Their work, known as The Pallasboy Project, explores the creative process involved in the crafting of prehistoric wooden artefacts beginning with the ‘Pallasboy Vessel’, an Iron Age wooden artefact discovered in 2000 in County Westmeath.
It is the second phase of the project which looks at the creativity and woodworking skills behind the anthropomorphic wooden figurines recovered from wetlands across Europe.
Environmental archaeology lecturer Dr Benjamin Gearey lead the group which recreated the Ballchulish Goddess, using the village hall as a base.
He said: ‘We’ve had an open day so local people could come and see what we are doing. At the end of it there was a ceremony to witness the figure being unveiled. It will be up to the community to decide what they want to do with her and where to put her on display.’
The finished replica of the Ballachulish Goddess. F32 Ballachulish Goddess