Whalebone post sockets from the broch at Vaul

Photograph of whalebone post sockets from the broch at Vaul.


Courtesy of Mr Nicholas Redman

These whale vertebrae, photographed by Nicholas Redman in 2003, are two of the four excavated from Dùn Mòr at Vaul by Dr. Euan Mackie in the early 1960s and now stored at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.

The vertebrae were positioned two on each side of the rectangular hearth set in the centre of the floor of the broch. They had been perforated in the middle and doubtless used as post sockets. The best preserved vertebrae would have held an 8 cm thick post.

Situated too close to the hearth to be roof supports, the posts were probably used to support some sort of roasting spit or a frame for a cooking cauldron.

Three black and white photographs of whale vertebrae from Dun Mor, Vaul.

Whalebone post sockets excavated from Dun Mor, Vaul, by Dr Euan MacKie in the 1960s and now stored at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. (2 photographs not displayed in Filing Cabinet 8 drawer 2)

Object Details

Other Number: T86
Normal Location: Photograph Shelves: photographs – T1-99
Current Location: normal location

1 thought on “2003.32.1

  1. Paul J. Wood

    At age 16 I joined the Glasgow University dig at Dun Mor (from Rayleigh, Essex) for about 3 weeks in July/August 1963 (a long steam-train and ferry journey in those days). I helped excavate the four whalebone vertebrae (including the two shown). They appear somewhat dessicated cf their first exposure to the atmosphere. My other memory is of the concentric stone walls, within which was inserted a rising “stairway” of stone steps. I have not been able to find any photos of that particular feature. There was also an object (possibly of gold) that, at the time was designated of Phonaecian origin, but I can’t be more specific after 55 years have elapsed.


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