Was Orkney’s first ‘Venus’ found in Harray?

Andrew Appleby's "Grimeston Girlie"

Following the groundbreaking discovery of the Orkney Venus last year, a Harray resident has revealed that he stumbled across what could be a similar find more than 30 years earlier!

Andrew Appleby uncovered what he has dubbed the “Grimeston Girlie” back in 1976.

He said that he found the figurine in a field in Grimeston and that, although it had been shown to some archaeologists shortly after its discovery, it has largely lain among personal belongings until now.

He joked: “I was out walking when I found it — I was new to the area so I was probably wandering around with my gun and my mushroom bag.”

Andrew, who is the vice-chairman of the Orkney Archaeology Society, continued: “I remember being told that, if ever soil has been scraped, always have a look. There was an area where the soil had been scraped by the cows, and I found it just lying in the dirt. It did kind of look natural, but then you wouldn’t expect to find that sort of thing lying around there anyway.”

The stone figure is less than two inches long and an inch wide but, nevertheless, Andrew said he always felt the object had special meaning.

Rather than discard the find, Andrew said he was keen to hang on to it, in the hope of one day shedding light on its origins.

He brought the figure into the Orkney Museum, in Kirkwall, shortly after he found it, but said they were unable to shed much light on the object.

“They just really weren’t interested, but that would be because these things weren’t recognised at that time,” Andrew said.

But now, decades later, Andrew said he has been informed by American-based archaeologists and sculptors that the figure is a carved image and it is artefactual.

And, following the national furore following the unearthing of the 5,000 year-old Orkney Venus, in Westray, interest has now grown in Andrew’s find.

The Westray figurine attracted international attention when it was discovered, last summer, by archaeologists working on the Historic Scotland excavation at the Links of Noltland.

Andrew has now contacted the British National Museum and is awaiting word on what plans could be in store for the Grimeston Girlie.

“They will make the decision on what is going to happen,” he said. “If I had done this before the Westray figurine turned up, I don’t think there would have been as much interest, so I’m quite glad I happened onto this.

“I would like to see it in Orkney, but that’s not my decision.”

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