Iron Age ex­perts res­ur­rect Bal­lachul­ish God­dess

The Oban Times - - News -

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

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