Saints and Stones: Skara Brae

Skara Brae is a large well-preserved stone-built Neolithic village that was occupied from roughly 3100-2500 B.C. Until an 1850 storm partially unearthed it, Skara Brae lay under years of soil sediment. It was fully excavated between 1928 and 1930 by the famous archaeologist, V. Gordon Childe.

The village consists of ten clustered houses, which were sunk into the ground -- into midden, the decomposition of organic matter, shells, bones, and other matter -- to act as insulation against harsh weather. Intricate passageways connect most of the dwellings with each other. The typical dwelling contains a large square room containing a large hearth for heating and cooking, a number of stone-built pieces of furniture, including cupboards, dressers, seats, and storage boxes, and an ingenious drainage.

The remains of Skara Brae that one sees today -- except for two earlier dwellings -- are from the second phase of it occupation, as they sit above an earlier settlement. The second phase took place about half-way through it occupation.

After nearly 600 years of occupation, around 2500 B.C, it appears that the settlement was abandoned. One theory suggests that the weather changed drastically, causing the inhabitants to leave. Another theory claims that it was abandoned because of changes in the nature of Neolithic society from tight-knit communities to a more dispersed one.

About Skara Brae

Orkneyjar: Skara Brae-The Discovery of the Village
Megalithic Portal: Skara Brae
Stone Pages: Skara Brae
Ancient Scotland: Skara Brae Neolithic Village
Undiscovered Scotland: Skara Brae
Wikipedia: Skara Brae
Wikipedia: Neolithic

Journey to Skara Brae

Skara Brae is located off the B9056, which is located off the A967, on the west coast of the Mainland in Orkney. It is part of the "Heart of Neolithic Orkney" although it is not in close proximity to the other sites that share this designation such as the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness, and the Maeshowe Chambered Cairn.

Streetmap UK (NGR HY2295718685)

Visitors Information

Visitors information may be found on the Historic Scotland website. General tourist information for Orkney may be found on the Visit Orkney website.

Additional Photos of Skara Brae (2007)

Historic Scotland Sign for Skara Brae
The Path to Skara Brae with Bay of Skail in Background
View of Dwellings at Skara Brae
View of Dwellings at Skara Brae
View of House 9, An Earlier Dwelling
Interior of a House 1 Showing Bed, Dresser, and Hearth
Interior of a House 5 Showing Box Beds and Hearth
Structure 8 Workshop
Passageway Between Dwellings
Tributes to Megalithic Builders by Modern-Day Visitors on Skail Bay Beach

Photos of Skara Brae (2010)

Plaque Showing Date of the Skara BraeSettlement
Approaching the Skara Brae Settlement
2010 Revisit to Skara Brae
Plaque Showing Prehistoric Dwellings at Skara Brae
Early Houses Sign at Skara Brae
Early House, Skara Brae
Workshop Sign at Skara Brae
Workshop, Skara Brae
House 1 Sign at Skara Brae
House 1, Skara Brae
House 4, Skara Brae
Entrance to Dwelling, Skara Brae
Passageway, Skara Brae
World Heritage Site Plaque, Skara Brae

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