ABDUA:18917. University Museums Collection Centre, Marischal College, University of Aberdeen.
This ‘witch stone from Orkney’ was donated to Marischal College Museum, Aberdeen in 1949 by the trustees of the estate of Mr J.C. Henderson. The stone is a naturally perforated siltstone pebble suspended on a loop of cord. The surface of the pebble is well polished by handling or rubbing.
The purpose of this particular stone is not recorded but a small number of 19th century witches stones are known from Orkney. An example in Stromness Museum (A115) was used by an old woman in Orphir. She is said to have rubbed it along the spine of a cow who had stopped giving milk, or whose milk was not creamy enough to make butter.
In Orkney stones with holes, known as Dian-stones, were frequently hung from ploughs in Orkney to ensure fine weather when ploughing. For more information on these traditions see OrkneyJar: http://www.orkneyjar.com/tradition/dian.htm
Copyright: University of Aberdeen.