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History - Venus on the rise

Scotland's earliest human face, the Orkney Venus, is to go on temporary display at venues across the country.

The 5,000-year-old figurine - also known as the Westray Wife - was discovered last summer by archaeologists working on the Historic Scotland excavation at the Links of Noltland, on the Orkney island of Westray.

The figurine is the only known Neolithic carving of a human form to have been found in Scotland. Measuring 41mm x 31mm, it is made from sandstone and depicts a human face and body. The name comes from its resemblance to prehistoric carvings from elsewhere in Europe - often referred to as Venus figurines.

The exhibition will remain at the Chapel Royal at Stirling until March 26, before progressing to Kilmartin House in Argyll (April 2-18) and Urquhart Castle (April 22 - May 9). It will then return to Orkney for the summer and be on display at Westray Heritage Centre before moving to Orkney Museum in Kirkwall.

As well as providing an overview of recent research on the Venus, the exhibition will tell the story of the current excavations on Westray. The Links of Noltland is one of Orkney's richest and most threatened sites, with severe wind erosion causing the collapse of the dune system which has protected the archaeology for thousands of years.

www.youtube.comhistoricscotlandtv; www.stirlingcastle.gov.ukorkneyvenus.

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